Migrant wave calls EU-Turkey deal into question - report

(Corrects sentence in lead saying the number of migrants had doubled)

The number of migrants crossing from Turkey into Europe leapt in 2019 to 70,000, raising questions about whether the 2016 EU-Turkey migrant deal is still effective, Deutsche Welle reported, citing a confidential EU report.

The 70,002 migrants crossing from Turkey between January and December this year represents a 47-percent jump compared to the corresponding period in 2018, DW said.

Around 68,000 of these crossed the Aegean Sea to Greece, with many landing and staying on Greek islands where refugee camps have become dangerously overcrowded.

"It has been reported that in some situations Turkish patrol boats have not intervened and even pushed refugee boats into Greek waters after being notified by the Greek coastguard," DW quoted the confidential report as saying.

This year the most migrants were from Afghanistan, making up 30 percent of the total number, followed by 14 percent of the migrants who came from Syria. Five percent of those who crossed were citizens of Turkey.

The number of migrants crossing into Europe has called into question the 2016 deal, which stated that Turkey would prevent crossings and take back migrants in return for funding to help it accommodate the spike in refugees from the conflict in neighbouring Syria.

Turkey has more than 3.6 million registered Syrian refugees, and has complained this year that the EU has failed to provide it with the full 6 billion euros it pledged in the deal.