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Turkish premier heralds success of EU refugee deal

Ahmet Davutoglu says 202 refugees returned to Turkey on first day, 78 sent to EU countries

Turkish premier heralds success of EU refugee deal HELSINKI, FINLAND - APRIL 6: Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (left) and his Finnish counterpart Juha Sipila (right) hold a joint press conference at the prime minister's official residence after their meeting in Helsinki on April 6, 2016, during one-day official visit to Finland. ( Halil Sagırkaya )


By Betul Yuruk


Illegal migration from Turkey to the EU has declined dramatically since a deal signed last month, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Wednesday.

Reiterating comments made by other Turkish officials since the March 20 EU-Turkey agreement to return failed asylum seekers to Turkey in exchange for Syrian refugees, Davutoglu said the number of illegal migrants had “decreased tremendously”.

The prime minister, speaking at a news conference with Finnish counterpart Juha Sipila in Helsinki, added: “The daily illegal migrant number was around 6,000 in October. Now, it has decreased to 350-a-day. This decrease has been achieved with the agreement.”

The deal between Ankara and the EU is designed to smash smuggling gangs that have put refugees’ lives at risk by trafficking them from Turkey to nearby Greek islands, often on unseaworthy vessels, resulting in hundreds of deaths.

For every “irregular migrant” returned to Turkey from Greece, a Syrian from Turkey will be relocated within the EU.

“On Monday, the first day of the implementation, we received 202 refugees and only 2 of them were Syrians,” Davutoglu said. “In return, 78 Syrian refugees were sent to three European countries - Germany, Netherlands and Finland.”

Sipila said Finland received around 32,000 refugees last year, 1,000 of which came from Turkey.

Around 2.7 million Syrians who have fled the civil war in their country are being sheltered in Turkey.

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