The number of migrants reaching the European Union from Turkey rose in 2018, the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag reported, citing a confidential report from the EU Commission.
According to the paper, the total number of migrants who arrived in the EU via Turkey rose to just under 51,000 in 2018 from around 42,000 the year before, an increase of 22 percent.
Of those 51,000, the large majority arrived in Greece, some 48,000 individuals, the paper said. Other EU arrival destinations were Italy, Bulgaria, and Cyprus.
Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan were the most common countries of origins for the migrants.
According to Welt am Sonntag, the EU Commission's report refers to internal estimates from the European Migrant Smuggling Center (EMSC), a part of the EU's law enforcement agency Europol that coordinates cross-border anti-smuggling operations. The EMSC estimates that illegal smugglers were involved in 90 percent of the cases of individuals who reached the EU, the paper said.
In 2016 Turkey and the EU signed an agreement outlining that Turkey would work to prevent migrants from reaching the EU over both land and sea routes. In exchange, the EU promised Turkey up to €6 billion ($6.8 billion), primarily to help Turkey support the refugees it had taken in.
Turkey has reportedly received at least €3 billion so far.
cmb/rc (Reuters, KNA, dpa, AFP)