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EU Looks to Turkey to Ease Migrant Crisis as More Drown

Medics take care of a rescued migrant at a local hospital in the Aegean resort of Didim, Turkey, March 6, 2016. Turkey's state-run news agency says 18 migrants have drowned off the Turkish coast while trying to reach Greece.

Thousands of migrants remain stranded at the Greece-Macedonia border as European Union leaders prepare to meet their Turkish counterparts to discuss the crisis at an emergency summit in Brussels Monday.

The European leaders will try to persuade Turkey's prime minister to slow the flow of migrants traveling to Europe and also take back thousands who don't qualify for asylum in the European bloc.

Nearly 14,000 migrants are currently camped at the Greek-Macedonia border, clinging to the hope that they might be allowed to move north. But many of their preferred destinations, like Germany and Scandinavia, have reintroduced border controls, threatening the future of the Schengen passport-free area so vital to trade and travel.

With a fresh surge of migrants expected as the weather warms, EU leaders are pinning much of their hopes for reducing the chaos on new commitments from Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

However, Turkey has a huge migrant challenge of its own, as host to more than 2 million people who fled the conflict in Syria.

The EU has offered several incentives to get Turkish authorities to crack down on migrant movements. Some $3.3 billion will be made available for Syrian refugees. Turkey's long-coveted EU membership process is being sped up, as are moves to ease EU visa requirements.

But even as the world leaders struggled to cope with the influx, on Sunday tragedy struck again. Some 18 migrants drowned off the Turkish coast, even as the coast guard managed to pluck 15 others to safety.

The coast guard has launched a search-and-rescue mission for others believed to be missing from the accident off the the Aegean Sea resort of Didim.

The statistical office of the European Union, Eurostat, reported Friday that a record number of more than 1.2 million first-time asylum seekers arrived in the EU in 2015, more than double the figure from the previous year.

It said that the largest group of refugees came from Syria, followed by Afghanistan and Iraq.

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