Migrants aware of difficulty in reaching Europe from Turkey

Two years after a controversial deal between EU and Turkey that aimed to curb the flow of migrants from Turkey to Greece, the deal seems to be redundant.

Nils Muiznieks, human rights commissioner at the Council of Europe, said that migrants are now well-informed of the challenges they will face in their attempt to reach other European countries from Greece and Turkey.

“It is quite difficult to get further, further from the islands, further from the [Greek] mainland, because you encounter fences all along the route. People are aware that the ability to move onward to northern Europe is much more difficult than it was a couple of years ago,” he told reporters in Brussels on 1 March, according to the EU Observer.

The EU signed the deal with Turkey in early 2016 in an attempt to curb the flow of migrants arriving on Greek islands and then heading further north in Europe, often through the Western Balkans.

Balkan countries also shut their borders, leaving thousands of migrants stranded in Greece, often in makeshift migrant camps.

Earlier this year, a report by the UN  refugee agency said that over a quarter of migrants and asylum seekers living in overcrowded centers on Greek islands had faced sexual and gender-based violence and harassment in 2017. The abuse is particularly bad on Lesbos and Samos islands.

Mateen (not his real name) returned voluntarily to Afghanistan last December. He was stuck in Turkey for a year and a half and couldn’t find a way to reach northern Europe.

“Tens of thousands of Afghan nationals are living in Turkish cities without a clear destiny. Most of them have tried their luck to head towards Europe but find they cannot cross from the Balkan region or Greece. Now, they are working in Turkey,” Mateen said in an interview with TMP.


Photo credit: Save the Children
Caption: Conditions for migrants and asylum seekers on the Greek islands reaching from Turkey remain dire