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Society

Refugee, Migrant Influx from Turkey to Greece Jumps 37%

April 18, 2019

While the numbers of refugees and migrants from Turkey to Greece fell markedly after a European Union swap deal three years earlier, they surged again by 37 percent in 2018 over the previous year, Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Markos Bolaris said.

“We witnessed a significant increase of migratory flows, both at sea and land borders … flows in the first three months of 2019 have increased by 7 percent compared to the same period of time last year,” he said in an interview with the Turkish Daily Hurriyet at the Greek Consulate in Constantinople.

“We acknowledge the fact that Turkey makes great efforts to manage the flows and is particularly burdened with refugees from conflict zones. It is, however, necessary, to step up efforts to control the flows with the ultimate goal of bringing them to a halt. We hope that the agreed measures with a view to improving the exchange of information and our cooperation in tackling smuggling networks will help achieve this common goal,” he said.

Turkey, however, has let human traffickers continue to operate, sending refugees and migrants who came to that country fleeing war and strife in the Middle East and elsewhere, to Greek islands and across a land border at the Evros River.

The EU-Turkey swap deal has also seen only a relative handful returned with Greece stuck with 70,000, most seeking asylum after the European Union closed its borders to them and reneged on promises to help send an overload to other countries.

“Our two countries have been working closely on the joint EU-Turkey statement of March 18, 2016. To date, its implementation has been rather satisfactory and we are committed to continue to make every effort to achieve the best possible results,” said the Greek minister about the agreement that human rights group said isn’t working.

Bolaris also urged Turkey to re-implement its readmission deal with Greece, referring to a deal struck in 2013, with Turkey agreeing to take back migrants who traveled illegally to the EU.

The deal says for every Syrian migrant sent back to Turkey from the Greek islands, one Syrian in Turkey will be resettled in European Union countries.

“We note that Turkey does not implement the EU-Turkey Readmission Agreement for third-country nationals and stateless persons and has suspended since last June the implementation of the bilateral Readmission Protocol. It is, therefore, no longer possible to return to Turkey the illegal immigrants who entered through the land border. We would like to urge Turkey to resume implementation of the bilateral protocol,” he also said.

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