Seeking a Path to Europe, Refugees and Migrants Ultimately Turned Back by Covid-19

Years of Turkey-EU disputes over Syrian refugees came to a head at the Turkish-Greek border in early March after Turkey opened its side of the border to those wanting to leave for Europe.

A weeks-long confrontation between those attempting to cross into Greece and Greek forces attempting to keep them out was temporarily resolved as fears of Covid-19 spreading through informal settlements along the border grew parallel to the beginning of the spread of the virus in Turkey itself as well as within the European Union.

Soon after the Syrian civil war erupted a decade ago, Turkey became host to more forcibly displaced people than any other country in the world, a designation it still holds. Today, over 4.1 million mostly Syrian refugees and asylum seekers live across the country. Feeling like it had dealt with this challenge largely on its own for the first five years of the crisis and following the “migrant crisis” of 2015 in Europe, Ankara reached an agreement with Brussels in March 2016. Turkey would take back refugees and asylum seekers and stem further flows in return for 6 billion euros in promised support.-