Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras defends a 2016 deal between Turkey and the European Union to stop the westward flow of refugee into Europe.

A man is covered with a blanket as refugees and migrants line up for a food distribution at the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, November 5, 2015.
A man is covered with a blanket as refugees and migrants line up for a food distribution at the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, November 5, 2015. (Reuters)

Greece has promised to step up efforts to protect migrants and refugees over the winter on the Greek islands, but defended a 2016 deal between Turkey and the European Union to stop the westward flow of refugee into Europe.

On a visit to France, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told the country's Figaro newspaper Thursday that the agreement was difficult but necessary.

His remarks followed strongly criticism from aid agencies and human rights groups over conditions at refugee shelters on Lesbos and other Greek islands.

Greece has seen a surge of migrant arrivals in recent months.

On Thursday, Greek border police recovered the body of a man believed to be a migrant in a river that divides Greece and Turkey — the second such incident in two days.

In March 2016, Turkey and the EU signed a refugee deal which aimed at discouraging irregular migration through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving the conditions of the three million Syrian refugees in Turkey.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies