According to Turkish news agency Anadolu, Turkish security forces have stopped close to 800 migrants near the border with Greece and Bulgaria from crossing into the European Union. Under the EU-Turkey deal from 2016, Turkey agreed to prevent migrants passing through its territory to Europe in exchange for financial aid for refugees in Turkey.
Over the past two days, Turkish security forces have intercepted 777 migrants attempting to cross the border from Turkey and reach the European Union, Turkish state news agency Anadolu reported on Tuesday.
The migrants were caught by “provincial Gendarmerie Command and Mechanized Infantry Brigade Command” in Edirne province west of Istanbul in continental Europe, which borders Greece and Bulgaria. According to Anadolu, the migrants are from countries including Somalia, Morocco, Afghanistan, Syria, Algeria and Bangladesh.
The migrants were being held at the local migration office, the agency said further. It was not immediately clear if and when they would be expelled.
People trying to flee the civil war in Syria, as well as conflict in Afghanistan, often try to pass through Turkey to reach EU countries.
Under a 2016 agreement struck with the EU (‘EU-Turkey deal’), Turkey agreed to prevent migrants from passing through its territory to Europe in exchange for financial aid for refugees in Turkey.
The deal was a response to the tens of thousands of migrants crossing the Aegean Sea and arriving on the Greek islands, or drowning in the attempt, in 2015.
According to the EU-Turkey deal, migrants who made the crossing to Greece would be sent rapidly back to Turkey, where Syrian nationals receive temporary protection status. Turkey has officially taken in over 3.5 million Syrian refugees.
During a trip to Bosnia on Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkish security forces stopped more than a million migrants from crossing the EU border between 2015 and 2017.
“99 percent” of those who tried to cross were stopped, he said.
Last month, UK immigration and human rights lawyer Taimour Lay told InfoMigrants the EU-Turkey has failed and caused Syrian asylum seekers to have been stuck in limbo in Greece.
Lay also said that hardly any refugees have been sent back to Turkey from Greece, and that the EU should scrap the deal.