Irregular arrivals from Turkey to EU down 94 percent
Irregular arrivals from Turkey to European Union countries were 94 percent lower than before a key migrant agreement Ankara and Brussels sealed four years ago , and a total of about 27,000 Syrian refugees have been resettled from Turkey to European countries, new data from the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) have shown.
The agency said in its annual reports that a key dimension of the EU approach to address the Eastern Mediterranean route is the partnership with Turkey through the EU-Turkey Statement reached in 2016.
“As a result of the agreement, irregular arrivals from Turkey to the EU were 94 percent lower than before its implementation,” the agency added.
The number of deaths in the Aegean Sea also decreased from 1,175 in the 20 months prior to the implementation of the statement to 439 since the statement became operational, according to EASO.
To address migratory pressure on the Eastern Mediterranean route, the EU and Turkey concluded the EU-Turkey Statement in March 2016 to end irregular migration flows from Turkey to the EU, enhance reception conditions for refugees in Turkey and offer safe and legal pathways for Syrian refugees from Turkey to the EU.
One of the provisions of the deal requires that all new irregular migrants crossing from Turkey into the Greek islands would be returned to Turkey. In addition, a resettlement scheme stipulates that for every Syrian returned to Turkey from the Greek islands, another Syrian would be resettled from Turkey to the EU.
To help refugees and host communities in Turkey, a total of 6 billion euros has been allocated through the Facility for Refugees for the period 2016-2025, focusing on humanitarian assistance, education, health, municipal infrastructure and socio-economic support.
At a global level, the 6.6 million refugees from Syria made up approximately one-third of the global refugee population, followed by Afghanistan and South Sudan, with 2.7 million and 2.2 million respectively, the report showed.
Data indicated that countries neighboring the epicenter of a crisis are often the first in line to accommodate displaced persons. In 2019, in absolute terms, Turkey by far hosted the highest numbers of refugees, with 3.6 million registered Syrian refugees under temporary protection in 2019 followed by Pakistan, Uganda, Germany and Sudan.
The agency also reported that asylum applications in Europe rose by 11 percent to 738,425 in 2019, the first annual increase since 2015.
While the COVID-19 emergency has led to an 87 percent drop in applications in recent months, the overall increasing trend is expected to resume later this year as travel and safety restrictions are gradually lifted, it said.
The report also stressed that some European countries such as Cyprus, France, Greece, Malta and Spain received more asylum applicants in 2019 than during the migration crisis of 2015.