As a result of the refugee influx, the infrastructure on Lesbos and other Greek islands is in danger of collapsing. Europe's model is no longer working. Although the number of migrants dropped after the EU-Turkey deal came into effect in March, the number of refugees heading for Greece has once again gone up, partially in response to the failed military coup in Turkey on June 15. In August and September, 6,527 refugees crossed the Aegean, twice as many as in May and June.


According to the agreement, migrants should actually be held in the Greek island camps, registered and then sent back to Turkey after accelerated proceedings. Greek authorities, however, have not acceded to Brussels' demand to recognize Turkey as a "safe country of origin." Instead, they are examining each case individually to determine if the applicant has the right to protection in Europe.

In the wake of the EU-Turkey deal, Greece has only deported 643 migrants, including 53 Syrians who returned to Turkey voluntarily. In September, more refugees reached the Greek Islands every day than migrants left the country in the entire month.


If Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras carries through on his recent pledge to move large numbers of refugees onto the mainland, it would be a signal to the smugglers in Turkey that the Aegean Route has reopened. "If the EU doesn't do anything quickly," Knaus warns, "the refugee deal will be dead in a few months."

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