EU registers sharp decline in migrants entering illegally through Turkey

The European Union has registered a sharp decline in the number of migrants illegally entering through Turkey, with the figure reaching its lowest point in five years, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported on Tuesday, citing Die Welt.

The bloc saw a 70 percent drop in migrants illegally entering from Turkey in the first nine months of 2020, registering at 14,579, compared to 48,554 for the same period last year, according to a report from the EU Commission and the European External Action Service.

Turkey is one of the main transition points for migrants seeking to enter Europe by sea, but a 2016 agreement with the EU sharply cut the numbers of refugees using that route.

According to the deal, Turkey would receive six billion euros for refugee-related services and visa-free travel in the EU for Turkish citizens in return for curbing the flow of migrants and refugees into the bloc.

But in March, tens and thousands of people massed on Turkey's land border with Greece, after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he would open the gates to migrants and refugees, saying his country can no longer host them. Turkey is currently home to some 3.6 million Syrian refugees.

There has been a significant drop in illegal border crossings via the eastern Mediterranean route in 2020, according to a report by the EU border agency Frontex earlier this month.

There were three-quarters fewer entries from January to September of this year compared to last, Frontex said.