Mon | Jan 22, 2018

Number of migrants continue to rock Greece, Turkey

Published:Monday | March 21, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Migrants and refugees make their way to get on buses after their arrival at the port of Elefsina, west of Athens, on Sunday, the day an agreement between the European Union and Turkey on ending illegal migration goes into effect.


Sunday was the day an agreement between the European Union and Turkey on ending illegal migration went into effect - but its implementation still remains uncertain.

Greek authorities say they're not sure any migrants entering Greece will be processed and turned back before Monday. Greece is expecting 2,300 European experts, including migration officers and translators, to help implement the deal. Nearly 900 new refugees landed on four of Greece's Aegean Islands close to the Turkish coast. In one of the boats arriving on the island of Lesbos, two Syrian men were found dead.

The EU-Turkey plan aims to halt smuggling by sending migrants who come to Greece and do not qualify for asylum back to Turkey in exchange for European nations taking refugees directly from Turkey. Turkey is also required to step up efforts to crack down on illegal migration. The deal puts Ankara on the fast track to get $6.6 billion in aid to deal with refugees, unprecedented visa concessions for Turks to visit Europe, and a re-energising of its EU membership bid.

Turkey, which is already hosting 2.7 million Syrian refugees, has been a primary departure point for Europe, while Greece has borne the brunt of arrivals. More than one million migrants arrived in Europe over the past year. Greece is still relocating migrants from its islands to temporary refugee camps on the mainland. A ferry carrying 1,169 migrants arrived on Sunday at the port of Elefsina, west of Athens. Another ferry carrying some 1,300 migrants was on its way there from Lesbos. The arriving refugees were taken to buses heading to temporary camps in northern Greece. On the Greek border town of Idomeni, about 10,000 migrants were refused entry into Macedonia and are now stranded.