The migrant deal between the European Union (EU) and Turkey may be failing as over 350 migrants have arrived in Greece in three days, up considerably from previous weeks.
The controversial EU-Turkey migrant deal had reduced the number of migrants crossing from Turkey to Greece from the thousands per month to hundreds over the last year, with the number of migrants arriving averaging at around 35 per day.
But the last three days have seen 362 migrants arrive, fuelling speculation the agreement has collapsed following recent diplomatic spats between Turkey and several EU countries, Kleine Zeitung reports.
The Greek Refugee Council confirmed between Friday and Sunday 362 migrants had made the trip from Turkey to several of the Greek islands in the Aegean sea. This route was the most heavily trafficked migrant route at the start of the migrant crisis in 2015, though after the EU-Turkey deal it was superseded by the North African route between Libya and Italy.
Sources from the Greek coast guard are attributing the rise of migrant arrivals to the break in the weather, though some worry the threats of the Turkish government to send 15,000 migrants per month may also be a factor.
The government in Ankara made the threat after a diplomatic row between Turkey, the Netherlands, and Germany after the latter countries denied entry to ministers to campaign for the upcoming Turkish referendum. Both EU states have large diasporas from the Near Eastern country.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has stated the EU can “forget about” the migrant deal after the Netherlands banned two Turkish ministers from appearing at political rallies.
The threats are not the first time the Turkish government has threatened to dissolve the deal. Last year, the government was upset the EU had delayed visa-free access to Turkish citizens because the bloc claimed that Turkey needed to reform its draconian terror laws that have seen opposition journalists and politicians arrested.
Around 62,000 migrants currently live in Greece and while their asylum applications are being processed they cannot be sent back to Turkey. Before the closure of the Greek border with Macedonia, many migrants used Greece merely as a transit point as they pressed on to rich, northern European countries like Germany and Sweden.
The Greek government has already said they are having a hard time coping with the migrants already in the country. A potential surge of 15,000 migrants per month could have disastrous consequences.
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