EU refugee deal with Turkey not working - DW

A deal between the European Union and Turkey to stem the flow of refugees trying to reach Europe is not working due to failures on both sides, wrote journalist Daniel Heinrich on the website of German state broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

The EU-Turkey refugee deal agreed two years ago aimed to cut the influx of Syrian refugees arriving in Greece. According to the deal, the EU promised to allocate €3 billion in aid to Turkey to help migrants, while Turkey pledged to increase security along its borders.

EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos announced last week that the €3 billion had been fully allocated and proposed the allocation of another €3 billion to Turkey.

According to the agreement, for every Syrian who legally enters Turkey and continues on to the EU, another refugee who has illegally entered the EU will be sent back to Turkey. Yet, the number of immigrants who have entered the EU from Turkey since the agreement went into effect is six times higher than the number of those sent back to Turkey during the same period.

“The deal is being presented as a success. The reality is anything but,” said Heinrich.

“The blame lies, however, not in Ankara but in Brussels,” he wrote. “The EU is simply unable to process the sheer number of cases piling up in camps on the Greek isles in the Aegean Sea.”

But Turkey, which was supposed to prevent more refugees entering the EU, has failed to uphold its part of the deal as well, he said. Though Turkey has taken some steps for border security, Heinrich said the border was still porous and as a result the number of illegal immigrants moving on to the EU was on the rise.

“Rather than improving the humanitarian situation that refugees find themselves in, Merkel and her European colleagues have, over the past two years, chosen instead to do everything possible to ensure that their suffering stays beyond Europe's borders — beyond the focus of news cameras,” wrote Heinrich.

But a spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday the deal was indeed working.

“For the German government, this is a joint success, both for Europe and for Turkey,” Turkish state news agency Anadolu quoted spokesman Steffen Seibert as telling a news conference in Berlin. 

“After this agreement, far fewer people died in the Aegean Sea while trying to enter Greece,” he said. “As for the second important outcome of the agreement, the living conditions of more than two million refugees in Turkey, most of whom are Syrians, have significantly improved through various projects backed by the EU’s financial assistance,” 

The European Commission is expected to sign of the payment of the second tranche of the deal this week, ahead of a summit between Turkey and the EU in Bulgaria on March 26.
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