The European Union celebrated a breakthrough in its attempts to stop refugees from coming to the continent Friday when it struck a deal with Turkey.
The deal was designed to cut off the main route for refugees and send all boats arriving on Greek islands back to Turkey. The policy went into effect Sunday morning, but 1,662 refugees still managed to reach Greece by sea during the first 24 hours.
“I have been suggesting this as a plan for a long time, but they suddenly announced without telling us,” Spiros Galinos, mayor of the Greek island Lesbos, told The Daily Mail. “We had no chance to get anything ready for it.”
Greek coordination agency SOMP admitted it had done little to prepare for the new regulations.
“We hope that the upcoming Easter break will not be a factor in delaying their arrival, because the situation calls for an urgent response,” SOMP spokesman Giorgos Kyritsis told German public news outlet Deutsche Welle.
The deal between Turkey and the E.U. is designed to be a “one-for-one” exchange. Greece will send refugees captured at sea to Turkey in exchange for Syrians using legal means to get to Europe. The E.U. is hoping this will curb the influx and deter economic migrants from trying in the first place. Turkey received $3.3 billion from the EU for agreeing to it. (RELATED: Turkey Blackmails EU Into Refugee Deal)
European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said the EU is moving “full speed ahead” to come up with a solution.
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