Turkey stops 41 refugees in Aegean as EU deal takes effect

Turkish Coast Guard intercepts 41 refugees en route to Greek island of Lesbos, as deal reached between European Union and Turkey to halt refugee flow into Europe comes into effect

Photo by: AP (Archive )
Photo by: AP (Archive )

A man carries a child as refugees arrive on a dinghy after crossing from Turkey to Lesbos island, Greece, Sept. 8, 2015.

Deal between Turkey and the European Union, which is intended on halting illegal refugee flows into Europe, has come into effect on Sunday as the Turkish Coast Guard intercepted 41 refugees en route to the Greek island of Lesbos.

The long awaited deal, which is aimed at blocking the influx of refugees into Europe, mainly through preventing people smugglers from sending refugees across the Aegean Sea into Greece, approved by the two sides on Friday.

Under the pact, Ankara will welcome refugees who cross into Greece, in return for the EU taking in thousands of Syrian refugees directly from Turkey and providing the country with more financial aid, early visa-free travel and progress in its EU membership negotiations.

France's President Francois Hollande (L) attends a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (R) during a European Union leaders summit on refugee crisis in Brussels, Belgium, March 18, 2016.

Some reports say the deal already failed to stem refugee flow into Greece, as about 50 refugees arrived in Lesbos on Sunday. However, Greek authorities, who started their preparations on Saturday, said that it is not possible to implement the deal immediately, as it is expected. 

On the other hand, Turkey continues its rescue operations, and intercepts in the Aegean Sea as Turkish Coast Guard recently intercepted 41 Syrian refugees who were en route to Lesbos off Canakkale’s Ayvacik District on Sunday.

Turkish Coast Guard intercepts refugees who were en route to Lesbos on March 20, 2016.

On Saturday, the coast guard vessels intercepted around 70 refugees off coastal town of Dikili in Turkey’s western province of Izmir, and rescued 21 refugees, whose boat sank off the southwestern coast of Cesme District.

In another operation, which was launched on Friday, Turkish authorities' detained 1,734 refugees trying to reach the Greek island of Lesbos and 16 smugglers.

Of the more than 1 million refugees, who arrived in the EU last year, more than 850,000 arrived by sea to Greece from Turkey, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Over the course of the year, 805 died in the Aegean.

TRTWorld and agencies