VIDEO: Turkish Coast Guard Seizes around 40 Iraqi Migrants Heading for Greek Island

Wed Apr 6, 2016 15:51:52

Around 40 Iraqi migrants were seized by the Turkish coast guard on Wednesday (April 6) as they attempted to sail to the Greek island of Lesbos, as Turkey tightened sea patrols under an EU deal meant to discourage others from making the same perilous journey to Europe.

Dozens of Iraqi migrants gathered at a secluded beach in the Aegean coastal town of Dikili at dawn and huddled into an inflatable dinghy hoping to cross to Greece. Coast guard units stopped them shortly after they set off.

Under the pact between Turkey and the European Union, Ankara will take back migrants and refugees who cross the Aegean to enter Greece illegally, including Syrians. In return, the EU will take in thousands of Syrian refugees directly from Turkey.

Some 202 migrants, mostly from Pakistan, were returned to Turkey on Monday (April 4) from the Aegean islands of Lesbos and Chios. Government officials and the International Office for Migration (IOM) said the figure included two Syrians, who returned voluntarily.

The IOM said on Tuesday (April 5) that the flow to Greece had slowed since the deal came into force. But human rights groups on the ground said facilities were still ill-equipped and many migrants were kept waiting.

On parts of Turkey’s Aegean coast where refugees had long gathered before attempting to cross the sea, the deterrent effect of the EU deal, struck last month, is apparent.

Turkish security forces have increased checkpoints on roads in a bid to detain would-be migrants. Syrian and other refugees who once packed the cafes and hostels in the area, have all but disappeared, Reuters reported.

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