(21 March 2016) – Flimsy boats packed with refugees continued to land in Greece from Turkey yesterday (20 March) despite the start of a landmark deal between the European Union and Ankara to stem the massive influx.
And in a grim start to an agreement designed to stop people from making a journey fraught with danger, two little girls were found drowned and two Syrian refugees died of heart attacks after the crossing.
Nine more died and hundreds were rescued off Libya, the Red Crescent said, as fears grow that the shutdown of the Greek route could encourage more people to attempt the even riskier Mediterranean crossing to Italy.
On the Greek island of Lesbos, police said some 800 migrants had arrived by midday despite the EU-Turkey deal formally coming into effect.
The SOMP agency coordinating Athens’ response to the crisis insisted however that those arriving from Sunday faced certain return to Turkey. “They will not be able to leave the islands, and we are awaiting the arrival of international experts who will launch procedures for them to be sent back,” the agency said. (EurActiv / AFP)