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EU refugee policy marks progress, not success - by John Psaropoulos

More than six months since the EU-Turkey Deal to control refugee flows across the Aegean was signed, the European Commission is congratulating itself on a “steady delivery of results”.

According to its third report on the implementation of the deal released on Wednesday, daily arrivals of refugees and migrants on Greek islands have averaged 81 since June, compared with 2,900 daily arrivals during the same period a year ago.

The progress, according to the Commission, demonstrates that “the business model of smugglers can be broken".

But the drop in arrivals comes hand-in-hand with significant problems.

Under the Statement, Turkey agreed to take back all those who don’t qualify for asylum in Europe. So far, though, only 578 people have been returned. This means that the islands of the east Aegean are gradually turning into vast internment camps because the agreement confines newly arriving refugees to Lesbos, Samos, Chios, Leros and Kos.

They are no longer allowed to travel to mainland Greece, from where they might more easily smuggle themselves deeper into Europe.

“When the EU-Turkey deal went into effect, there was no infrastructure that could support the sequestration of people on the islands,” says Chios Mayor Manolis Vournous. 

Read more: EU refugee policy marks progress, not success - Al Jazeera English

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