The number of refugees trying to reach Greek islands from Turkey via the Aegean Sea is again on the rise after witnessing a sharp drop since the start of this year, Turkish Coast Guard Command figures revealed on Friday.
According to the authority, out of the 27,028 refugees intercepted by Turkey so far this year, 5,506 were held in January, 8,747 in February, 8,530 in March, 1,717 in April, 1,109 in May, 538 in June and 881 in July.
The migration to Europe via sea routes had dropped by 90 percent after Turkey and EU signed a refugee deal in March. But now it was increasing again, especially since the last month-and-a-half, according to latest data compiled by Anadolu Agency.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reported that more than 3,000 refugees had reached Greek islands in August.
The deal between the EU and Turkey deal is aimed at breaking people-smuggling gangs which have been trafficking refugees and migrants across the Aegean to nearby Greek islands.
The desperate journeys made by migrants and refugees hit their peak last year after some European countries announced they would take in thousands of people.
According to Turkish Coast Guard figures, in 2015, 279 migrants lost their lives in the Aegean, mainly through use of unsafe vessels such as plastic boats. January 2015 was the only other month in which no casualties occurred in the Aegean.
Over the past year, thousands of people have made short but perilous attempts to cross the Aegean in a bid to reach Greece, before going on to northern and Western Europe.
The EU-Turkey agreement reached on March 20 allows for the return of “irregular migrants” to Turkey from Greece in exchange for Syrian refugees to be relocated within the EU.