Greece is allowed to start sending migrants back to Turkey from today

Europe is embroiled in the worst refugee crisis since World War II.

While European Union members are all trying to thrash out the best way to accommodate the one million migrants arriving in the 28 nation bloc per year, some countries like Greece are struggling to cope with the influx due to its own battered economy.

However, today marks the day where the agreement between the EU and Turkey — to allow Greece to send back migrants that either do not apply for asylum or fail in their claims — comes into effect.

The deal also means that for every Syrian migrant arriving in Greece, one will be sent back to Turkey while one Syrian in Turkey will be resettled in the EU.

In order to enforce the deal, the EU are sending 2,300 officials to help enforce the new agreement. That includes security officials and translators. However, the BBC reported that
Greek officials said none of these experts had yet arrived.

While Greece technically can start sending back to migrants back to Turkey, government migration spokesman Giorgos Kyritsis suggested it is unlikely that the country will be able to do this straight away because there are still key details that need to be worked out.

“The agreement to send back new arrivals on the islands should, according to the text, enter into force on March 20. But a plan like this cannot be put in place in only 24 hours,” said government coordinator for migration policy spokesman Giorgos Kyritsis, as reported by AFP and the Guardian.

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) confirmed on December 30, 2015 that more than one million refugees and migrants reached the continent by sea since the start of 2015.

This is versus 219,000 in 2014.

The organisation confirmed the data on its website and included a whole host of charts to show how the number of immigrants — which include those fleeing from war, people seeking asylum and those classified as economic migrants by the government because they are seeking better lives and jobs without necessarily seeking asylum status — have shot up since 2014.

Here are the key stats from the report:

  • Arrivals by sea in 2015 — 1,000,573
  • Dead or missing — 3,735
  • Arrivals coming from the world’s top 10 refugee producing countries — 84%

Syrian refugees are, by far, the largest demographic of migrants to come to the EU.

Many migrants arrive by sea to the Greek islands due to its gateway to mainland Europe:

According to the International Organisation for Migration, one million migrants and refugees entered the EU by boat from Turkey to Greece since January 2015.

On March 8, EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, said in the
an Parliament: “We need now to ensure a quick implementation of the voluntary humanitarian scheme from Turkey and to implement projects that will further improve the situation of the Syrians in Turkey.”

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