Three years on – the EU-Turkey deal

On this day three years ago, the EU-Turkey deal to manage refugee movements from Turkey to Europe came into effect. The stated objectives included ending dangerous sea crossings, offering legal resettlement pathways, and easing the pressure on Greece. How do they hold up three years on?

Has the Eastern Mediterranean route become more safe?

No. People are still desperate enough to cross from Turkey to Greece. In fact, crossings have become more dangerous: the individual risk of death is now four times higher than it was in 2015 (UNHCR data).

Are legal resettlement pathways available for refuees?

Hardly. Over the course of three years, around 25.000 refugees have been resettled from Turkey to Europe – of over 3.6 million registered refugees in Turkey.

Has the pressure on Greece been eased?

No. There are now more refugees stranded in Greece than there were three years ago. The intra-European relocation mechanism has ended in 2017 with only one third of pledged relocations being fulfilled. The EU currently has no plans to resume relocations from Greece to other European countries.

Greece has become a dumping ground for the men, women and children that the European Union has failed to protect [...]. What was once touted as a ‘refugee emergency’ has given way to inexcusable levels of human suffering across the Greek islands and on mainland Greece. The EU and Greek authorities continue to rob vulnerable people of their dignity and health, seemingly in an effort to deter others from coming. This policy is cruel, inhumane and cynical, and it needs to end.”
— Emmanuel Goué, MSF’s Head of Mission in Greece
Moritz Reitschuster