News / Europe

    EU, Turkey, Reach 'Landmark' Deal on Migrant Crisis

    Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, left, speaks with, from left, French President Francois Hollande, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Roivas during a meeting at an EU summit in Brussels, March 18, 2016.
    Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, left, speaks with, from left, French President Francois Hollande, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Roivas during a meeting at an EU summit in Brussels, March 18, 2016.
    VOA News

    The European Union and Turkey agreed Friday on a deal that all sides hope will relieve Europe's worst refugee crisis since World War II.

    European Council President Donald Tusk and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called it a "landmark" agreement. The prime minister said Friday was a "historic day" for Turkey and the EU.

    "We today realized that Turkey and the EU have the same destiny, the same challenges and the same future," Davutoglu said.

    The deal takes effect Sunday. All migrants who illegally enter Greece from Syria and elsewhere — including those already in Turkey — will be sent to Turkey after they are registered and their claims for asylum in Europe are considered.

    In exchange, thousands of refugees who fled to Turkey and legally sought asylum will be resettled equally across the 28 EU members.

    FILE - Migrants walk along a road from the village of Chamilo to the migrant camp at the village of Idomeni, near the Greek-Macedonian border, Greece, March 15, 2016.
    FILE - Migrants walk along a road from the village of Chamilo to the migrant camp at the village of Idomeni, near the Greek-Macedonian border, Greece, March 15, 2016.

    Turkey already shelters nearly 3 million Syrian refugees. It will get EU financial help to deal with the refugee crisis — it will eventually double to about $6.7 billion — along with quicker EU membership talks and visa-free travel for Turkish citizens across the EU by the end of June, if Turkey meets a number of preconditions.

    Tusk warned that the deal, by itself, would not solve Europe’s migrant crisis.

    “Some may think this agreement is a silver bullet, but the reality is more complex," he said. "It is just one pillar of the comprehensive European strategy and can only work if the other pillars are implemented.”

    Those other pillars include strengthening the EU’s external borders, keeping a well-traveled migrant route across the western Balkans closed and returning to the open-borders Schengen system internally.

    Turkey has a shaky human rights record, and some human rights groups said the plan uses people looking for refuge from war, poverty and terrorism as political pawns.

    Amnesty International slammed the agreement, saying Turkey was not a safe country for refugees or migrants, and that the process of returning asylum seekers would inevitably be "flawed, illegal and immoral.”

    The U.N. refugee agency said it was vital that all sides respect international and European law.

    "How this plan is to be implemented is ... going to be crucial. Ultimately, the response must be about addressing the compelling needs of individuals fleeing war and persecution. Refugees need protection, not rejection," the UNHCR said in a statement.

    A woman stands in a crowd beside the railway tracks as a train passes beside a refugee camp where thousands of refugees are waiting to be allowed to cross the border into Macedonia in the northern Greek border station of Idomeni, Thursday, March 3, 2016.
    A woman stands in a crowd beside the railway tracks as a train passes beside a refugee camp where thousands of refugees are waiting to be allowed to cross the border into Macedonia in the northern Greek border station of Idomeni, Thursday, March 3, 2016.

    Even some EU leaders who signed off on the plan said they were not entirely happy with it.

    Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said the proposal "is on the edge of international law" and might be hard to implement. Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel accused Turkey of blackmail.

    But Europe has been struggling with the refugee crisis for months, and no one has come up with a solution on which everyone can agree.

    FILE - Syrians gather at the Bab al-Salam border gate with Turkey, in Syria, Feb. 6, 2016.
    FILE - Syrians gather at the Bab al-Salam border gate with Turkey, in Syria, Feb. 6, 2016.

    More than 1.2 million migrants have landed primarily on Greek and Italian shores since January 2015, and about 4,000 have drowned while trying to cross the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece.

    Thousands more have drowned in the dangerous Mediterranean after paying human smugglers. Children have been among the victims.

    Davutoglu said the refugees’ plight was not an issue of bargaining, but an issue of humanitarian values as well as European values.

    VOA's Lisa Bryant contributed to this story from Paris.

    In Photos: Idomeni Camp Refugees Mull Future in Europe

    • Refugees at Idomeni camp keep warm by burning a soiled blanket. (Jamie Dettmer for VOA)
    • Refugees at Idomeni camp discuss their next moves; how best to get deeper into the European Union. (Jamie Dettmer for VOA)
    • A Syrian mother dashes to stop her kids from playing too close to an open wood fire. (Jamie Dettmer for VOA)
    • More than half of the refugees at the Idomeni camp are women or children. (Jamie Dettmer for VOA)
    • A Syrian girl navigates a muddy field. (Jamie Dettmer for VOA)
    • Refugee kids at Idomeni camp aim for the skies. (Jamie Dettmer for VOA)
    • Refugee kids at Idomeni camp play on the train tracks. (Jamie Dettmer for VOA)
    • Two refugee kids walk on top of piled up rusty iron railings at Idomeni camp. (Jamie Dettmer for VOA)
    • Refugees are on the tracks but going nowhere. (Jamie Dettmer for VOA )
    • A refugee family leaves their temporary home to join the food distribution lines. (Jamie Dettmer for VOA)
    • A Greek father and son waiting to hand out food to Idomeni refugees. (Jamie Dettmer for VOA)
    • In addition to living in tents, Syrian families have also been camping out in unused freight cars. (Jamie Dettmer for VOA)
    • A few hundred refugees are camping out at a gas station 18 kilometers from the Idomeni camp. (Jamie Dettmer for VOA)

    You May Like

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: human right
    March 19, 2016 5:03 AM
    It's EU and US that created all these refugees by waging wars for the sake of same people. now,They are not ready for helping people looking for refuge. Now, They are treating the same people inhumanly by sending them back to Turkey which is using people looking for refuge from war, poverty and terrorism as political pawns to exert money from EU.

    by: Dr Rob Lee
    March 18, 2016 4:04 PM
    Essentially the Atirks flooded Germsny with migrants and now wants much needed bribe money to take them back.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora