Turkish and Greek coast guards patrol the Aegean Sea
Turkish and Greek coast guards patrol the Aegean Sea

The migrants were trying to get from Turkey to EU country Greece, which has seen a large number of arrivals recently. Boats continue to arrive despite the pact between the EU and Turkey, which allows Greece to sent rejected asylum seekers back to Turkey.

The Greek coastguard and the European border management agency Frontex said on Monday that they had intercepted boats with 234 migrants over the weekend.

Frontex stopped 118 migrants and detained the crew of several vessels off the islands of Lesbos and Agathonisi. The Greek coastguard found another 116 off the port city of Alexandroupoli.

The Greek islands are located just a few kilometers from the Turkish coast. They have seen a large number of migrant arrivals recently. 

In late May, the Greek coastguard reported it picked up around 150 migrants in the Aegean Sea in three separate incidents.

Overcrowded camps, too many arrivals

Refugee camps at the hotspots on the islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos are overcrowded. That's because the rate of arrivals remains higher than the rate of those who leave the islands because their asylum application has been approved or rejected. 

Those whose request for asylum has been denied can be returned to Turkey. Verified refugees are redistributed across EU member states. This rule was introduced in the EU-Turkey deal, which was signed in March 2016. 

In return, Turkey receives financial assistance to maintain its refugee camps. Turkey can also send one verified Syrian refugee to the EU for every Syrian sent back from Greece.

Is the EU-Turkey deal ineffective? 

In just ten months in 2015 and 2016, more than one million people came to Europe from Turkey through the Balkans. The EU-Turkey deal sought to decrease migration flows on the Balkans.

Although countries on the Balkan route have sealed off their borders and illegal border crossings have declined significantly since 2015, migrants still come.

Instead of being funnelled along by buses and trains at a rate of thousands per day, though, migrants now try to sneak through. To this end, they often pay smugglers and risk their lives. From January to April this year, some 3,400 migrans crossed into the EU illegally.

With material from dpa


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