(Greece) – After a brief lull a few weeks ago, migrant arrivals to the Greek islands from Turkey have increased. Skai, a Greek television network, reported on the story early on Tuesday. This spike has Greek officials in the eastern Aegean islands concerned that it’s a sign that Turkey has relaxed on the terms of a deal they signed with the European Union back in March where Turkey agreed to regulate the flow of refugees a lot closer in exchange for talks to determine Turkey’s eligibility for ascension, several sources told the network. Skai also reported that hundreds of refugees were gathering on the coast of Izmir waiting to move on to the European Union.
Skai reported that the surge of migrant arrivals has been happening over the last five days. For the several weeks before that, the number was close to zero. About 160 refugees have arrived from Turkey to Lesvos. This brought the total number of migrants on that island to around 4000 people. Around 64 people have arrived in Samos, and the total number being hosted on that island is just over 950 people. The total number of migrants being hosted in the Easter Aegean is around 6600 people and the number of refugees being hosted in Greece as a whole is just over 52,000, according to one government official. Witnesses are reporting seeing busloads of people transporting some of the migrants to the center of Izmir, and others are reporting seeing small boats lining up at the coastline.
In March of 2016, Turkey signed an agreement that ended irregular migration between Turkey and countries in the European Union such as Greece that have been hosting refugees. Many look at Turkey’s honoring of the agreement as resulting in the decline in numbers of refugees that have come to Greece, especially in the Greek islands. As part of the agreement, Turkey and the EU decided that any irregular migrants who came to Greece from Turkey would be sent back to Turkey. Now that the numbers are increasing once again, this has people concerned that Turkey is no longer honoring the agreement.