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Hundreds of Greece-bound refugees blocked in Turkey for second day

16 september 2015, 18:20
0

Around 1,000 refugees remained stranded Wednesday in the northwestern Turkish city of Edirne, near the Greek border, after being barred by Turkish authorities from continuing their journey to Europe, AFP reports.

"They cannot stay here. Maybe we will allow them to stay two or three days but then they have to leave," local governor Dursun Ali Sahin told Turkey's NTV channel, a day after police surrounded Edirne's bus station to contain the mostly Syrian crowd.

The road through Edirne is seen by migrants as a safer route out of Turkey to the perilous sea crossing in overcrowded dinghies to Kos, Lesbos and other Greek islands. 

Hundreds more refugees camped out at the main bus station in Istanbul for a second night running after being refused tickets for Edirne, some 250 kilometres (150 miles) away.

Scores more attempted to reach the border by car, interspersed in some cases with stretches on foot.

Defending the decision to turn them back, Sahin said Edirne could not cope with the arrivals, which have exceeded 50,000 so far this year -- more than the total in 2014.

"Last week, we managed to send back 7,500 people by convincing them not to stay. We will use this same persuasion method," he said.

The press was kept away from the station area early Wednesday, an AFP photographer said.

Sahin said local authorities were looking after the migrants, providing them with food, water and blankets. Red Crescent volunteers were also at the scene, AFP witnessed.

Many of the refugees seeking to leave Turkey have been living in the country for months, sometimes years, after fleeing the bloody civil war in neighbouring Syria.

With little aid and few jobs available to them in Turkey, which is hosting some two million refugees, many have set their sights on a new life in Europe.

Those seeking to reach Edirne cite the case of Aylan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian refugee whose tiny dead body was photographed washed up on a beach in Turkey, to explain their desire to travel overland.

"No more Aylan," a group of refugees at Istanbul station chanted Tuesday. "We don't want to die. We don't want to drown." 


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