Turkey sticking to migration deal, Greece says, citing low arrivals

GERMAN PRESS AGENCY - DPA
ATHENS
Published 27.04.2017 01:54

Turkey is holding up its end of a deal designed to reduce migration to Europe, authorities in Greece said on Wednesday, citing a continually low rate of arrivals.

An average of 36 people have arrived on Greek islands since the beginning of April, having taken the perilous sea route from Turkey across the Aegean Sea, according to the country's Refugee Crisis Management Coordination Body.

The crisis management team also reported that 53 migrants have died trying to reach Greece since the beginning of the year.

The latest incident occurred on Monday, when 16 people drowned off the island of Lesbos. Eight are still missing.

The figures nonetheless mark an improvement on last year, when 376 migrants drowned in the Aegean from Jan. 1 to April 26, according to figures released by the International Organization for Migrants (IOM).

The number of migrants reaching Europe has reduced drastically since April 2016, when transit countries along the so-called Balkan route further north began closing their borders and the European Union signed an agreement with Ankara to prevent irregular migration via the sea route.

Since the start of 2017, 5,174 have reached Europe, compared to almost 100,000 in the same period of 2016.

Under the EU-Ankara deal, any migrant arriving from Turkey will no longer be allowed to apply for asylum and will be sent back. The EU pledged millions of euros in return to support Turkey, which is host to one of the world's largest refugee populations.

European Union member states granted protection to 710,400 asylum seekers in 2016, more than double the number approved in 2015.

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