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Turkey stops refugees en route to Greek islands

Justice & Home Affairs

Turkey stops refugees en route to Greek islands

Turkish coast guard vessels.

[Harold Litwiler/Flickr]

Turkish authorities rounded 1,300 asylum seekers yesterday (30 November) that they said were planning to sail to Greece from hideouts near secluded Aegean beaches and forests.

Turkish gendarmes apprehended hundreds of Syrians, Iraqis, Iranians and Afghans and three human traffickers, near the town of Ayvacik in Canakkale province, coastguard officials told Reuters.

In the largest operation of its kind in recent months, the migrants were sent to a repatriation centre where some could face deportation, the officials said.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davuto?lu on Sunday struck a deal with EU leaders to prevent migrants from travelling to Europe in return for €3 billion in cash, a deal on visas and renewed talks on joining the 28-nation bloc.

>> Read: EU and Turkey agree on €3 billion refugee deal

Council President Donald Tusk said that approximately 1.5 million people have illegally entered the EU in 2015, and most have come through Turkey.

Nearly 600 people have died on the so-called eastern-Mediterranean route, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Turkey is home to more than 2 million refugees as well as thousands of refugees from Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Turkey has been a candidate for EU membership since 1999, and has been negotiating for accession since 2005.