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EU Migrant Deal: Turkey To Start Denying Asylum Granted Elsewhere


Turkey has now signed an agreement with the 28 countries of the European Union. It's an attempt to stem the flow of migrants and refugees into Europe. From Brussels, Lauren Frayer reports.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: We have more children.

LAUREN FRAYER, BYLINE: Desperate migrants struggle to navigate their rubber dinghy ashore in the Greek islands in a video released by the United Nations. Adults surge forward to plant their children on safe ground. About 2,000 people have been arriving like this each day in Greece. But starting tomorrow, they'll be turned back under a new deal announced by Turkey and European Union President Donald Tusk.


DONALD TUSK: First sure, this is a breakthrough when it comes to our relations and also a breakthrough when it comes to our main goal, main aim, to stop the irregular migration to Europe.

FRAYER: Irregular migration - smugglers who ferry migrants across the Mediterranean Sea illegally. From tomorrow on, the EU will pay to collect new arrivals and transport them by ferry or plane back to Turkey, even though Turkey has already absorbed nearly three million refugees from Syria.


AHMET DAVUTOGLU: It is a big challenge, I have to say.

FRAYER: But Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters he'll order more refugee camps built to house those turned back from Europe.


DAVUTOGLU: There is no better option, and we have to act not as politicians but as human beings.

FRAYER: For every Syrian refugee turned back from Europe after arriving by boat another Syrian refugee will be resettled to the EU from Turkish camps. The idea is to encourage migrants to stay in those camps and apply for asylum from there rather than risk their lives with smugglers. In exchange for its help, Turkey wants some big concessions - nearly $7 billion in EU aid and visa-free travel to Europe for its citizens. The EU will also restart stalled talks over possible Turkish membership in the union. Outside the summit venue where all this was agreed, protests...

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Chanting in foreign language).

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Chanting in foreign language).

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Chanting in foreign language).

FRAYER: ...By Kurds and human rights groups that oppose those concessions to Turkey because of its own record. Fotis Filippou is a spokesman for Amnesty International.

FOTIS FILIPPOU: We definitely have issues with Turkey's human rights abuses taking place right now that what we see in the southeast and issues related to freedom of expression.

FRAYER: Up to 72,000 Syrian refugees will be granted asylum in Europe as part of the deal. The logistics will be handled by the United Nations and the International Organization for Migration. Its Brussels director, Eugenio Ambrosi, says they won't take the same risks as smugglers, and as a result, the movement of migrants will take much longer.

EUGINIO AMBROSI: You'll never pack a dingy with 150 people to return into Turkey. This is what the smuggler do to bring them into Europe, but we will not do the same. So obviously the pace will be slower, but I would say that that is good.

FRAYER: Ambrosi predicts a spike in smugglers' boats coming across to Greece before this agreement takes effect tomorrow. For NPR News, I'm Lauren Frayer in Brussels. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Lauren Frayer covers India for NPR News. In June 2018, she opened a new NPR bureau in India's biggest city, its financial center, and the heart of Bollywood—Mumbai.