Source: Ekathimerini Photo: RTE
Athens, 30 August 2019 – Over a dozen migrant boats landed on Greece's Lesbos island within minutes of each other on Thursday in the first such mass arrival from neighbouring Turkey in three years, officials said, prompting Greece to summon Turkey's ambassador.
In 2015, at the height of Europe's migrant crisis, thousands of people were arriving on Greek shores every day. The numbers dropped dramatically after the European Union and Ankara implemented a deal in March 2016 to cut off the flow.
Of the 56,000 refugees and migrants arriving in Europe this year, nearly half have been to a handful of Greek islands, and the number has risen in recent months, United Nations data shows.
Sixteen boats carrying about 650 people reached Lesbos on Thursday, 13 of those in under an hour, according to police and the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR.
"It surprised us. We haven't seen this type of simultaneous arrivals in this number since 2016," said Boris Cheshirkov, spokesman for UNHCR in Greece.
Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias summoned the Turkish ambassador on Friday to "express Greece's deep discontent" with the rise in flows from Turkey, diplomatic sources said. The ambassador said Turkey was "committed" to the EU-Turkey deal and that its policy had not changed, the sources said.
This post was originally published on Home - Centar za zaštitu i pomoć tražiocima azila / Asylum Protection Center.