No sign of slowdown in migrant flow from Turkey to EU
Emine Kart - ANKARA
AFP photoFigures shared by Europe’s border control agency have painted a gloomy picture regarding ongoing efforts to stanch the influx of migrants and refugees from Turkey to the European Union, with the head of the agency confirming that the trend is not showing any signs of slowing down.
“The trend is not stopping, is not being reduced; it is an ongoing challenge,” Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri told reporters at a press conference after two days of talks with Turkish officials.
The numbers of migrants crossing into Europe in January and February this year was 30 times higher than the figures year-on-year, he said.
Leggeri said they discussed ways of further cooperation on border management and the fight against smugglers.
“We also compared our assessment of the situation and our figures,” the official added.
“The number of irregular border crossings from Turkey to Greece and Bulgaria was lower in January and February than in December last year. But we agreed with our Turkish counterparts … that the figures in January and February of 2016 are at a higher level than they were in January and February 2015,” he said.
“According to Frontex figures, the number of irregular migrants crossing this area was multiplied by 30 if we compare to the same months, January and February, last year,” he said.
According to Frontex figures, in 2015, Frontex registered 1.8 million irregular border crossings into the EU, 885,000 of which occurred from Turkey to the EU, mostly from the Turkish coast to the Greek islands.
“There are also many casualties in the sea; this is also a humanitarian disaster,” Leggeri said, noting that last year the Turkish coast guards rescued more than 90,000 migrants who were in distress in the sea.
“Frontex on the EU side rescued last year approximately 98,000 migrants in the vicinity of the Greek islands. Just to compare, Frontex rescued approximately 68,000 migrants between Libya and southern Italy last year. So we compared the figures and of course we came to the conclusion that this is a common challenge and a humanitarian concern that so many people risk their lives,” Leggeri said.
“Turkish coast guards this year have rescued 12,000 migrants in the vicinity of Turkish coast. Since the beginning of this year, in two months, we have already registered 108,000 who were able to arrive on the Greek islands. Frontex has rescued 15,000 migrants in the Aegean Sea this year. You see it is approximately the same number as what the Turkish coast guard did on each side,” he said.