Thursday

20th Feb 2020

Turkey arrests 1,300 migrants and smugglers after EU deal

Turkish coast guards arrested around 1,300 migrants and three suspected smugglers Monday (30 November) in a crackdown operation just a day after the EU and Turkey reached a political deal to stem the flow of migrants to Europe.

250 police officers raided eight different places in the region around Ayvacik, in south-western Turkey, from which people try to reach the Greek island of Lesbos.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or join as a group

The people arrested, mainly Syrians, Afghans, Iraqis and Iranians, were hiding in forests and on small beaches, Turkish press agencies reported. Police also seized four boats and six motors and found the body of a dead man.

The police operation follows a EU-Turkey summit in Brussels Sunday (29 November) where both parties "agreed to implement the Joint Action Plan which will bring order into migratory flows and help to stem irregular migration".

The EU accepted to pay €3 billion for the refugees living in Turkey and to re-open accession talks, in exchange for a Turkish promise to act against migrant trafficking.

Turkish authorities have been accused of turning a blind eye on migrants gathering on the coast to take boats to Europe and of ignoring organised smuggling.

Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu said however that he could not guarantee effective action.

"I wish I could say that the number of migrants will decline, but we cannot say this because we don't know will be going on in Syria," he said after the summit.

Main entry point

The location of Monday's operation is nevertheless a positive signal sent to the EU, as Lesbos is the main entry point for migrants to the EU from Turkey.

According to the latest figures from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 431,989 people arrived in Lesbos between 1 January and 26 November this year, more than in Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros combined.

Despite the Turkish crackdown, migrants continued to arrive on Lesbos Monday, local authorities said.

“It is clear that the dispatches from the other side have started again,” the regional governor for the Northern Aegean, Christina Kalogirou, was quoted as saying by Kathimerini newspaper.

While the UNHCR said that 3,425 migrants arrived in Greece on Sunday, compared to less than 2,000 on Friday and Saturday, Kathimerini said that more than 5,000 arrived in Lesbos alone in the past two days.

In Brussels, the European Commission said that it will present a report on 15 December over the implementation of the EU-Turkey joint action plan.

The commission will also publish a plan for a voluntary resettlement mechanism for Syrian refugees currently living in Turkey.

The idea was floated by Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel and commission president Jean-Claude Juncker at a mini-summit of eight countries on Sunday.

The eight countries - Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Sweden - said they were ready to receive refugees directly from Turkey.

The plan is to "take away some pressure from Turkey in the broader context of re-energized partnership," a commission spokesperson told reporters Monday.

Commission boosts Turkey fund stake to €1bn

EU member states are continuing to discuss how best to finance a Turkey fund worth the €3bn. Under pressure from EU countries, the commission proposed a contribution of €1bn from the EU budget.

Asylum seeker stuck almost three years in Moria camp

Anny Nganga, an asylum seeker from DR Congo, has been surviving for almost three years in Moria, a camp on Lesbos island that was recently described as the "single most worrying fundamental rights issue anywhere in the European Union".

NGO rescue boats do not receive Frontex alerts

Rescue boat Sea-Watch doesn't receive alerts from the EU's border agency, Frontex whenever its surveillance aircraft spots migrants in distress at sea. Frontex says it follows procedures, which Oxfam calls a carefully-crafted plan to prevent people from arriving.

News in Brief

  1. EU unveils white paper on AI and data strategy
  2. Dutch court rules against Russia in €46bn Yukos case
  3. Britain to bar 'Polish plumber-type' migrants
  4. Greece seeks EU help to get back classical statues from UK
  5. HSBC to cut 35,000 jobs worldwide
  6. Regions chief appeals against cutting EU cohesion funds
  7. Verhofstadt criticises UK Brexit negotiator
  8. Turkish court acquits Gezi park activists

Opinion

Europe's migration system is broken: Renew has a plan

The failure of successful integration of migrants and refugees granted stay in Europe puts the entire asylum and migration policy at risk. Member states have to step up their integration policies.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  2. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December

Latest News

  1. EU leaders face major clash on rule of law budget link
  2. North Macedonia warns EU on 'dirtiest ever' election
  3. Western 'endarkenment' and the voodoo politics of Europe
  4. Warning of agricultural 'digital arms race' in EU
  5. Cayman Islands put on tax-haven blacklist after Brexit
  6. Boris' Brexit bluff? - UK will resist alignment to the end
  7. US still open to Kosovo-Serbia land swap
  8. EU countries enter final phase of budget talks

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us