EU-Turkey refugee deal shocks North Vancouver volunteer

“By the end of today, they probably will have emptied the island of almost all of the refugees,” North Vancouver volunteer Laurie Cooper said of a new deal that will send failed asylum applicants to Turkey.

Deal will see migrants with failed asylum claims sent to Turkey

Migrants wait at a Turkish coast guard station at the Dikili district in Izmir, on March 20, 2016, after they were stopped while trying to reach the Greek island of Lesbos from the Bademli village, western Turkey. (Ozaqn Kose/AFP/Getty Images)

A North Vancouver woman on her way to Greece to help migrants says a new European Union-Turkey agreement has left volunteers like her stunned, disappointed and frightened for the fate of those migrants.

The agreement compels the Turkish government to crack down on migrants leaving that country for Europe.

It will also see European nations send all refugees who don't qualify for asylum to Turkey, in exchange for a promise for EU nations taking refugees directly from Turkish camps.

"The issue around that is that it could be deemed that because they came from Turkey, and the EU is considering Turkey a safe third country, as it's called, they could be sent back just because they came through Turkey," volunteer Laurie Cooper told The Early Edition's Rick Cluff.

Cooper, who has been to Greece previously as a volunteer with her group, Canada Caring, says other volunteers have told her that within a day of the agreement being announced, buses came to Lesbos, the island that has become a major stopover point for migrants, then began loading them up and taking them to Athens for their journey to Turkey.

"By the end of today, they probably will have emptied the island of almost all of the refugees," she said.

Cooper estimates that about 60 per cent of the migrants coming to Europe in the last two months are women and families. She says many husbands and fathers went to Europe first to prepare for the rest of their families to make the trip.

Despite the new agreement, Cooper says she will continue with her latest trip, if only to help clean up from the thousands of refugees who have gone through the island.

With files from The Early Edition


To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: EU-Turkey refugee deal has North Vancouver volunteer 'stunned'

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