EU-Turkey deal

Flow of migrants “almost stopped” after EU-Turkey deal, say Turkish villagers

Local residents of Bademli village say the flow of migrants to Europe from the area has almost stopped, after a deal between Turkey and the European Union was sealed.

BADEMLI, TURKEY (MARCH 20, 2016) (REUTERS) – Secluded beaches and forests of Bademli village, a hotspot for migrants crossing to Europe, were unusually calm on Sunday (March 20), hours after a deal between Turkey and the European Union went into effect.

The accord aims to close the main route by which a million migrants and refugees poured across the Aegean Sea to Greece in the last year before marching north to Germany and Sweden. According to deal, anyone who crosses to Greek islands from the Turkish coast from Sunday will be returned to Greece, with expulsions expected to start from April 4.

Residents of Bademli village, across the Greek Island of Lesbos, said they had noticed a significant reduction in the illegal flow of migrants on Sunday morning.

“There was an intense flow of refugees until two days ago. This flow has reduced as a result of the agreement between the government and the European Union that was sealed two days ago. It has almost stopped. And this village is known for its coves in Dikili. People smuggling is widely done from here,” said Suat Yaman, a local resident.

Turkish gendarmerie soldiers and coast guard units had stepped up patrols after the deal, said another resident.

“It doesn’t happen nowadays. Gendarmerie soldiers increased security and coast guards are waiting across (patrolling at sea). They don’t let them cross. Today is a tranquil day. Nobody is coming or going,” said Ali Baykal.

Turkey intercepted more than 2000 migrants since Friday (March 18) coast guard officials told Reuters.

The accord foresees Ankara taking back all illegal migrants who make it across the Aegean Sea to Greece. In return, the EU would take on an equal number of Syrian refugees directly from Turkey and give the Turks billions of euros in new funds, visa-free travel rights and accelerated EU membership negotiations.

In the longer run, it hinges on European states agreeing to accept quotas of refugees from Turkey, something many European countries have shown little appetite for.