Europe/Turkey migrant agreement

This item appears on page 21 of the June 2016 issue.

The European Union and Turkey agreed to a compromise in late March that will ease Europe’s handling of migrants who have had asylum denied. According to the agreement, denied Syrian asylum seekers in Europe will be returned to Turkey in exchange for an equal number of Syrian refugees living in Turkey who have made “legitimate requests” for asylum in Europe. Also being sent back to Turkey are migrants who have crossed into Europe illegally who have not made an asylum claim, including non-Syrians.

Most of the returning migrants are camped in Greece, the first entry point into Europe for most of the more than 853,000 migrants who entered Europe in 2015. Greece’s neighbors have shut their border crossings to anyone lacking a passport and visa. In 2016 alone, more than 150,000 migrants had entered Greece by the end of March.  

Germany, the most popular destination for asylum seekers, has seen a sharp drop in asylum applications in 2016. In December 2015 nearly 120,000 people applied for asylum in Germany, but in March 2016 that number had dropped to 20,000.