samedi 9 avril 2016

Migrant arrivals on Greek islands slow, some still trying to leave Turkey

A woman holds her child as refugees and migrants wait to disembark a Greek Coast Guard vessel at the port of Mytilene on the Greek island of Lesbos

Turkey - A deal between the European Union and Turkey appeared to show tentative signs of slowing the flow of migrants to the Greek islands on Wednesday, but many were still trying to cross the sea and the route remained far from sealed off.
Three days after the EU-Turkey deal came into force, new arrivals on the Greek islands from Turkey dropped to 68 in the 24 hours to Wednesday morning from 225 the previous day, data from the Greek migration ministry showed.

The numbers fluctuate daily and it was unclear if the decline was a direct result of the accord, under which migrants and refugees who use irregular sea crossings in the Aegean to get into Greece are being sent back to Turkey.
'We had a very low influx from the other side of the Aegean ... which we consider positive,' said Greek government spokesman George Kyritsis.
Since the deal was implemented on Monday, 202 people, the majority from Pakistan, have been returned from Greece. Greek and Turkish officials say more could be sent back this week.
But despite the returns, and tighter security along Turkey’s coast, migrants were still trying to make the crossing.

Turkish authorities detained several groups at sea shortly after dawn, including about 40 Iraqis, some of whom set sail in a small dinghy from a cove 20 km (12 miles) south of the town of Dikili, a Reuters witness said.
Some were left on the beach as the dinghy was too small to carry them all. They watched as the Turkish coastguard intercepted the vessel moments later.
'Greece does not want to host us. Turkey is not allowing us. Where should we go? We drown in the sea with our children, that’s it,' said one Iraqi, declining to give his name.
They were later put on buses and taken to Dikili, where a small reception center has been set up in the port to process migrants sent back from Greece. Around 15 Pakistani migrants were also intercepted and brought to the town.
On a road outside Dikili, nine Syrian Palestinians, their belongings in rubbish bags slung over their backs, were trying to find transport after abandoning their efforts to cross, deciding the groups they planned to join were too big and the boats too small.
They had fled from the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk on the outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus. Some said they wanted to cross, others said they now hope to be settled in a refugee camp in Turkey.
'This agreement is not about Syrians or Palestinians. Where can we go if we go back to our land?' one said of the EU-Turkey deal, declining to give her name.
 Source: Reuters, 9 April 2016

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