Since the EU-Turkey refugee deal came into effect more than a week ago, the number of refugees trying to reach Europe via crossing by sea from Turkey to Greece has fallen sharply.
Turkey and the EU reached an agreement which came into effect on March 20 to stop refugee flows into Europe. Under the deal, refugees trying to enter Europe illegally will not get a chance to be resettled in the EU, as all new irregular migrants crossing from Turkey to the Greek islands as of March 20 will be returned to Turkey. After the deal came into effect on March 20, the refugee transit numbers started to fall.
On March 18 and 19 alone, nearly 2,000 refugees were caught in the Aegean Sea. But the week between March 20 to March 27, only 795 refugees were captured.
In 2015 more than 800,000 refugees crossed into Europe, and the Coast Guard captured 91,611 illegal immigrants, according to data compiled by Anadolu Agency. Over 5,500 refugees were captured this January, while 8,739 were captured in February. The total number of refugees captured this year up to March 20 was 22,000, and 7,842 were caught in March.
The March numbers fell from the previous month for the first time since the refugee crisis began. Turkey is hosting the largest number of Syrian refugees in the world and has spent more than 7 billion euros ($7.7 billion) meeting their needs, according to European Commission figures released last year.