Migrant arrivals to Greece fall sharply following EU deal with Ankara

Far fewer migrants arrived in Greece in April compared to the same period last year, latest figures show, following a deal signed by the European Union and Turkey aimed at curbing the flow of people boarding smugglers' boats to cross the Aegean Sea.

A total of 3,469 people crossed from Turkey to Greece in April, compared to 13,556 in April 2015, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and the Greek migration crisis managing body said Tuesday.

The number of migrants - many of them refugees from conflict zones in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan - exploded in spring 2015 and around 1 million migrants reached European shores last year.

In March, the EU and Turkey struck a deal in which Ankara received a package of incentives, from billions in refugee aid to progress on visa-free access to the bloc for Turkish citizens, in exchange for help in returning migrants.

So far Greece has sent around 400 migrants - out of the tens of thousands of people stranded in the country by border closures further north - back to Turkey under the deal.

Arrival figures since the start of 2016 chart the discouraging effect of the agreement, which sees so-called irregular migrants returned to Turkey in exchange for direct resettlements of Syrian refugees. In January 67,415 migrants arrived in Greece, in February 57,066 and in March, the last month of open borders, 26,971.

In the first two days of May only 112 people arrived on Greek islands.

Last update: Fri, 24/06/2016 - 08:49

More from Europe

Italy's foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni set to become next premier

Italy's outgoing foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni got a presidential summon on Sunday, strongly suggesting that he...

Social democrats favoured as Romanians head to the polls

Romanians are set to head to the polls Sunday, with the latest surveys favouring the Social Democrats (PSD) ahead of...

Mattarella looking to usher in functioning Italian government quickly

Following crisis talks in Rome on Saturday, Italian President Sergio Mattarella said he will be taking steps soon to...

Austria to veto further EU accession talks with Turkey

Austria will block the continuation of EU talks with Ankara over Turkey's future membership in the bloc, Austrian...

Diplomats call for ceasefire in Aleppo at Paris meet

Foreign ministry officials from the West and the Middle East meeting in Paris Saturday for talks on Syria have...