As It Happens

As Turkey opens path to Europe, one refugee describes war-like scene at border with Greece

An Iranian refugee who is trying to cross the border from Turkey into Greece described babies and the elderly waiting in freezing conditions, and Greek officials firing tear gas at refugees.

Refugees arrived at Turkey's borders with Greece and Bulgaria Friday, upon news that borders were open

Refugees wait as they try to cross the Greek Turkish border on Friday in Edirne, Turkey. (Osman Orsal/Getty Images)
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An Iranian refugee who is trying to cross the border from Turkey into Greece described babies and elderly people waiting in freezing conditions, as Greek officials fired tear gas.

"It's like a war," Parvin told As It Happens guest host Helen Mann. As It Happens is withholding her full name because she fears for her safety. 

Hundreds of other refugees arrived at Turkey's borders with Greece and Bulgaria on Friday morning.

Parvin arrived in the Turkish town of Edirne, near the Greek border, after hearing the news that Turkey is not stopping refugees from entering Europe. 

A Turkish official announced that the country was opening the border, after an airstrike in Syria's Idlib province by Russian-backed Syrian government troops killed 33 Turkish soldiers on Thursday night. 

Turkey will no longer close its border gates to refugees who want to go to Europe , a senior official told media on Friday, shortly after the killing of 33 Turkish soldiers in an airstrike in northern Syria. (Ozan Kose/AFP, via Getty Images)

There are some 3.6 million Syrians in Turkey, and the country has threatened for years to "open the gates" in several disputes with European states. Turkey struck a deal in 2016 with the European Union to stop the number of migrants entering Europe.

NATO held emergency talks on Friday to try to diffuse the situation between Turkey and Russia. 

Parvin has been living in Turkey for the past three years, after leaving Iran because she feared the government.   

She said she decided to go to the Pazarkule border post with Greece because she does not feel safe in Turkey and fears that she will be sent back to Iran. 

"It's not important which city. It's not important which country. We want to live like a human. Like a person. Have citizenship from another country," she said. 

Greek border security guards stand in front of refugees from Turkey trying to cross the Greek Turkish border on Friday. (Osman Orsal/Getty Images)

Bulgaria sent 1,000 troops to its border with Turkey. At the Pazarkule border crossing post, where Parvin is waiting, refugees were met with barbed wire fences and tear gas. 

Both countries said they would not allow the refugees to enter.

Weather is cold and rainy

Parvin said the weather is rainy and cold, and children are shaking. She says that there is no food, water or toilets and she is trying to stay warm by a fire while waiting in a forest near the border. 

Migrants stand around a fire while they are camping next the Greece border, along the Turkey-Greece border near Edirne. (Ozan Kose/AFP, via Getty Images)

Parvin said she has not been stopped from going back into Turkey, but that she does not want to return to the conditions she was living in before, which she describes as "hell". 

Instead she is pleading with Greece and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to "open the door." 

If they do not, Parvin said she will continue waiting at the border as long as she can. 


Written by Sarah Jackson with files from Reuters and Associated Press. Produced by Jeanne Armstrong. 

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