Greece Struggles to Enforce Migrant Accord on First Day
By LIZ ALDERMAN - MARCH 20, 2016
Migrants reaching the Greek island of Lesbos on Sunday. Credit Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times
ATHENS — Greece and the European Union scrambled on Sunday to put in place the people and the facilities needed to carry out a new deal intended to address the migrant crisis that is roiling Europe, as hundreds of migrants in rubber dinghies continued to land on the Greek islands from Turkey.
The accord, struck between the union and Turkey on Friday, set a 12:01 a.m. Sunday deadline for Turkey to stem the flow of people making clandestine journeys across the Aegean Sea to Greece in an attempt to enter Europe, and required Greece to begin sending back migrants who are not eligible for asylum.
Yet processing centers on the Greek island of Lesbos and on several other Greek islands were not adequately staffed to comply immediately with the new measures, and officials said they were waiting for the European Union to follow through on a pledge to send at least 2,300 European police and asylum experts to help.
By Sunday afternoon, around 875 migrants in rubber boats had reached the Greek islands since midnight, the government said, despite an operation in Turkey that began Friday to detain migrants and the smugglers who make their journeys possible.
Many migrants landing in Lesbos on Sunday appeared to be unaware of the new policies and were reeling from their harrowing journey. Greek television showed black and gray rafts arriving at the island laden with people, some sobbing with relief at having reached Europe, and others nearly unconscious. Two little girls were found drowned, and two Syrian refugees died in the crossings over the weekend.
On Sunday, the Greek government began clearing out more than 6,000 migrants who had been waiting at processing centers and camps on several Greek islands, and transporting them on large ferries to Piraeus, the port of Athens, and to Kavala, a port in northern Greece. From there, they are to be sent to refugee camps recently set up around the
Nearly 50,000 migrants are stuck on the Greek mainland at camps, in Piraeus and on Greece’s northern border with Macedonia. More than 10,000 people have been living in miserable conditions in the Idomeni camp, on the Macedonian border, after west Balkan countries sealed their borders last month to cut the flow of migrants making their way to Germany and northern Europe.
Once emptied of their previous occupants, the migrant centers on the Greek islands are to be used only to process those who make it across the Aegean Sea through a phalanx of patrols run by Frontex, Europe’s border agency, as well as NATO and the Greek and Turkish Coast Guards.
The Greek authorities will register the migrants and process asylum applications. Migrants who do not apply for asylum or whose applications are rejected are to be returned to Turkey within two weeks. Under the accord, for every Syrian refugee returned to Turkey, the European Union will resettle one refugee directly from Turkey.
For the tens of thousands of other migrants stuck in camps around Greece, the situation is less clear. Many of them are Syrian and Iraqi nationals who, for the most part, are considered eligible for political asylum and a program that would relocate them across Europe.
Yet governments in several European countries recently began screening Syrians to determine whether the cities they came from were buffeted by conflict or considered “safe,” meaning that not all Syrians will be eligible for asylum.
In addition, around one-third of migrants in Greece are from Afghanistan. After several European countries last month abruptlyreclassified them as “economic migrants,” most were disqualified from political asylum, and will most likely be repatriated. That process could be lengthy, even after help from other European Union countries arrives in Greece.
In the meantime, tensions have been flaring in some camps on the mainland as well as in Piraeus, where many migrants have been waiting, often for weeks, to find out if they will be able to cross the borders. On Friday, fights broke out between groups of Afghan and Syrian migrants in Piraeus, after a similar brawl the day before.
At the Idomeni camp on Sunday, Doctors Without Borders said 33 migrants had been treated for injuries inflicted by the Macedonian police as they tried to cross the closed border with Greece.
A version of this article appears in print on March 21, 2016, on page A4 of the New York edition with the headline: Greece Struggles to Enforce Migrant Accord as Hundreds Arrive on First Day
Angela Merkel’s Trust in Turkey and Greece on Migrants Comes With RisksBy ALISON SMALE - MARCH 20, 2016
Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany arriving at the European Union summit meeting in Brussels last week. Credit John Thys/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesBERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel, alternately lauded for courage and reviled for recklessness in admitting more than one million migrants into Germany, finally has what she wanted: a European Union accord with Turkey to reduce and manage the influx.
But even before the ink had dried on the deal reached Friday, Ms. Merkel faced sharp criticism from human rights groups for compromising on European values that she herself had championed regarding the protection of refugees, as well as from others who questioned a partnership with Turkey.
The European Union has embraced a nation whose president, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has veered from democracy, muffling the news media and other freedoms. He has pursued his own agenda against opponents of the Assad government in Syria’s civil war, reviving a military campaign against Kurd militants while facing terrorist bombings in Ankara and Istanbul.
“Does anybody seriously think that a country which hunts down and mistreats its own citizens can offer security to people in flight?” asked Cem Ozdemir, the leader of the opposition Greens and one of an estimated three million people of Turkish descent in Germany.
Another Greens leader, Anton Hofreiter, told The Rheinische Post, “Angela Merkel has achieved a European solution, but abandoned her own humane stance.”
While others were less categorical in their criticism, the compromises entailed in the accord no doubt underscored that the refugee crisis has eluded easy solutions. But it was made necessary by Europe’s inability to secure its own borders and put in place a timely and workable plan to process and redistribute refugees.
Short of that, Ms. Merkel argued, the deal with Turkey was all that stood between Europe and a repeat of the dangerous chaos that ensued last year when hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees set off on rafts to cross the Aegean to Greece.
The deal was also needed to shield European leaders from the political backlash in a bloc wary of migration. Even Ms. Merkel’s own political standing is being challenged by a shift among voters toward the far right.
In essence, Europe will pay Turkey up to 6 billion euros, or nearly $6.8 billion, through 2018 to keep at least 2.7 million Syrian refugees in decent conditions and prevent their passage to a continent where Ms. Merkel and other leaders are under populist pressure to keep out more foreigners.
Greece will get money and up to 4,000 European officials, judges and interpreters to help process any migrants who do still reach its shores and the approximately 40,000 already trapped there.
The smugglers who have made billions shipping desperate migrants across the Aegean to Greece and on to Northern Europe will see their business destroyed because everyone reaching Greece will be turned back to Turkey, Ms. Merkel stressed three times as she presented the pact on Friday in Brussels.
“Great plan,” said Stefan Ulrich of the liberal daily Süddeutsche Zeitung. “Just unfortunately a bit too reliant on good will on all sides.”
But even as she hailed the deal, Ms. Merkel was cautious about its prospects. “Tremendous logistical challenges lie ahead,” she acknowledged on Friday.
“I am under no illusions that what we decided today will also bring further setbacks,” she said. “But I think we have found an agreement that contains an aspect of irreversibility.”
“Above all, it was very important to me that everything today was agreed together,” she continued, referring to the 28 European Union member states.
With Friday’s agreement, Ms. Merkel is also safeguarding the billions already poured into keeping Greece in the euro currency, and shoring up NATOon its southeastern flank, adjacent to Middle East war zones. The alliance, including its often quarreling members Greece and Turkey, is now involved in patrolling the Aegean to prevent illegal migration.
At home, Ms. Merkel has seen a far-right party ride the refugee crisis to spring from obscurity last summer to double-digit percentages in three state elections a week ago. She has also come under heavy fire in her own conservative bloc for refusing to impose a limit on sheltering migrants.
The sharp fall in arrivals in Germany that has resulted from Austria’s and Balkan nations’ shutting their borders has benefited Ms. Merkel, whose poll standings are rising for the first time since December. If she now also controls the refugee influx her way, she is likely to regain further support.
Tanja Börzel, a professor of politics and social sciences and integration expert at the Free University in Berlin, saw what she called good and bad news in Friday’s outcome.
“I was very surprised,” she said by telephone, “that Turkey has committed to this for relatively little in exchange.”
Professor Börzel pointed to Turkey’s succeeding in opening just one new policy channel for talks on eventual European Union membership and facing stiff conditions for the visa-free travel it seeks for Turks from late June.
In addition, she said, Europe insisted that it would dispense the €3 billion, or about $3.4 billion, it initially promised Turkey in aid before giving more.
“The European Union did not yield,” Professor Börzel said, seeing a gap between “what Turkey wanted and what it got.”
The “bad news,” she added, is that Europe still depends heavily on Turkey and Greece to manage their share, despite broken past promises to do just that.
The United Nations’ refugee agency, which has been pouring new staff and assistance into Greece, stopped just short of rejecting the deal and stressed that every refugee still must get an individual hearing.
“Ultimately, the response must be about addressing the compelling needs of individuals fleeing war and persecution,” the agency said in a statement. “Refugees need protection, not rejection.”
The International Rescue Committee, a nongovernmental group that recently arranged a meeting between Ms. Merkel and the actor George Clooney and his wife, Amal, a human rights lawyer, was more blunt. Instead of shutting down smuggling, the group warned, “the E.U.’s deal with Turkey will lead to more indignity, more disorder, more illegal journeys and more lives lost.”
The newsweekly Der Spiegel, never slow to cast the chancellor in a critical light, noted that “on paper, she has (with some minus points) the deal she sought. But she now bears the responsibility that it works.”
Ms. Merkel, who at 61 has been in power since 2005, brings not just her political experience but also the process-driven approach of a trained scientist to the task of governing. On Friday, she peppered her presentation with talk of summaries, phases and mechanisms, and purposefully looked on the bright side.
“Why should I paint horror scenarios?” she asked a questioning journalist. “Let’s first of all begin with the process. It lies in our hands whether we undertake the visa liberalization” that Turkey seeks, and when and how to advance talks on European Union membership.
Professor Börzel was also philosophical. Ms. Merkel’s plan assumes, she noted, that when the Syrian refugees find out that they cannot go to Germany, they will accept this and wait in Turkey. At least over the weekend, that indeed appeared to be the case.
“There are a number of assumptions that we will see in the next weeks and months if they are confirmed,” Professor Börzel said. “It gives Europe and Ms. Merkel some time. And if it doesn’t work, we will all have to think again.”
A version of this article appears in print on March 21, 2016, on page A8 of the New York edition with the headline: Merkel’s Trust in Turkey and Greece to Stem Migrants Comes With Risks
Deal Appears to Curb Migrant Flow, but Greece Still Faces ‘Uphill Effort’By JIM YARDLEY and LIZ ALDERMAN - MARCH 21, 2016
Migrants Arrive in Mainland Greece
In compliance with a new agreement between the European Union and Turkey, the Greek authorities started moving migrants and refugees from the islands to make space for new arrivals.
By REUTERS on Publish Date March 21, 2016. Photo by Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters. Watch in Times Video »MYTILENE, Greece — Standing on the southern coastline of the island of Lesbos, Molhim Zreiki peered through binoculars across the narrow strait of the Aegean Sea dividing Greece from Turkey. During the past nine months, hundreds of thousands of refugees had crossed these waters on smuggler rafts to reach Europe.
But how many rafts reached Lesbos on Monday morning?
“None,” said Mr. Zreiki, one of the volunteers who have patrolled the beaches for months to help refugees as they came ashore.
The Greek Coast Guard did pick up two rafts near Lesbos early Monday and brought the 56 people aboard to the island, according to the local police. By comparison, in October an average of 4,400 refugees landed on the island every day.
For the European Union, the paramount goal of last week’s much-criticized refugee deal with Turkey was to shut off the enormous flow of people pouring in to the Continent and break the smuggling rings targeting Greece. By insisting that people coming into Greece will be deported back toTurkey, European Union officials say, they are trying to dissuade Syrians and other migrants from taking the smuggler boats in the first place. They hope Syrians will instead decide to stay in Turkey and apply for European asylum from there.
Yet many officials and migration experts warn that most migrants are fleeing war from countries like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, and that they will simply find other routes into Europe, with the aid of smugglers in any case. Italy is already preparing for the likelihood of a higher influx of migrants crossing the Mediterranean from Libya. Other experts say refugees could try to enter Europe from the east, or elsewhere.
But at least here on Lesbos, 48 hours after the deal went into effect, the number of refugees landing seemed to be slowing, though the figures were still being tabulated. Sunday brought more than 1,500 new refugees to the Greek isles, but early tallies suggested that the figure might have dropped to just a few hundred on Monday.
Volunteers directed a raft carrying migrants to the Greek island of Lesbos on Sunday. Officials said fewer arrived Monday. Credit Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times“The numbers show a significant decrease, but it’s too early to draw clear conclusions,” said Giorgos Kyritsis, the government spokesman for migration policy.
Indeed, even as the situation at sea remained uncertain, Greek officials on Monday were still confronted with widespread confusion about how the new refugee deal will be administered on land.
Under the agreement, Greece is expected to detain refugees arriving by boat and return many of them to Turkey. The European Union will then accept a certain number of Syrian refugees from camps in Turkey.
Greek officials also must address the status of the more than 50,000 refugees who are exempted from the new agreement because they were already stranded inside the country. But sifting and assisting those people have created parallel challenges for a Greek state already battered by years of economic crisis.
The migrants already inside the country must be sheltered and fed for a considerable period, possibly years, until their futures are sorted out. Many are now living in squalid tent cities — most infamously at the Idomeni crossing on the Macedonian border — and must be moved to government camps. On Monday evening, Yiannis Mouzalas, the country’s deputy migration minister, said Idomeni would be emptied within a month.
At the same time, the government must rapidly prepare for the arrival of new refugees on the islands, given that most experts expect the flow to increase again as the weather grows warmer, despite last week’s agreement.
Even with help from other European countries, the Greek government will struggle to process and detain the newly arriving refugees while also setting up a large-scale system for deportations back to Turkey that meets legal scrutiny. Deportations are scheduled to begin around April 4.
Migrants from Pakistan at a camp in Moria, Greece, were told they would have to leave. Credit Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times“We have to make an uphill effort because implementation of this agreement will not be an easy issue,” the Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, said on Monday. He met with Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European Union migration commissioner.
Officials with the United Nations, as well as many migration experts and human rights advocates, have already expressed concerns about the deal. Some argue that it violates the legal rights of refugees under international law. Others say the rush to start sending people back to Turkey is placing a tremendous strain on Greece.
“We feel it is being implemented prematurely,” said Boris Cheshirkov, a spokesman on Lesbos for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. “Our main concern is the Greek government doesn’t have the capacity to assess massive numbers of cases.”
Amid the uncertainty, migrants across the country were groping for answers on Monday. At the port of Piraeus, near Athens, thousands of refugees wandered in a state of confusion about their future. Piraeus now has refugees sleeping in passenger waiting rooms or in tents outdoors.
With no processing or information centers on site, rumors abounded, as did anxiety, among people who had hoped to reach Germany.
“People are asking me for information about what to do,” said Yousif Karoija, 30, a pharmacist from Aleppo, Syria, who has been in Greece for nearly a month. “I tell them: Wait one to two weeks to see what happens.”
Mr. Karoija’s wife and daughter died when bombs struck their home in Aleppo. He once hoped to reach Germany, but he is now thinking of applying for asylum in Greece and looking for work as a pharmacist or a translator to help resettling migrants. Fluent in English, and having already picked up some Greek, Mr. Karoija said he still had not figured out how to enter the asylum process.
“It’s incredible,” he said. “We came from a war. Now it’s like we’re in another war.”
Others feared that they would not be able to reunite with relatives who had already made it to Germany or other countries.
“No one knows what to do,” said Abdulraham Hedar, a Syrian stranded at Piraeus with his two daughters as they try to join his wife in Germany. “Governments look at us like we are just numbers. They don’t see us as humans.”
On Lesbos, the authorities were in the early stages of trying to put the new deal in place. Last year, Lesbos became the primary entry point for refugees into Greece, partly because of the island’s proximity to the Turkish coast.
The government has run an official processing center near the village of Moria. Some migrants lived there, but it was an “open” facility, meaning people could come and go freely. Now it will become a restricted center where new arrivals will be processed and housed before possible deportation back to Turkey.
In the past two days, Greek police forces have been working to evacuate refugees already stranded on the island so that they can be moved into government camps. This has caused some tensions, especially at Better Days for Moria, a camp run by volunteers that now largely houses Pakistani men.
The police warned camp organizers that the men would now need to leave and be moved into government camps. But many of the Pakistanis were uncertain and anxious about what would happen.
“What happens today?” asked Faisal Alam, 26, who had left Lahore to seek a future in Europe after both his parents died. “Nobody understands what is happening.”
On Monday, after hugging volunteers, many of the Pakistani men slowly walked over to the newly closed processing center. Their cases will be examined, but then they could be among the first people deported back to Turkey.
Nikolas Leontopoulos contributed reporting from Mytilene, and Dimitris Bounias from Piraeus, Greece.
A version of this article appears in print on March 22, 2016, on page A4 of the New York edition with the headline: Deal Appears to Curb Migrant Flow, but Greece Still Faces ‘Uphill Effort’.
The Opinion Pages | Editorial
Human Trafficking on Trial in ThailandBy THE EDITORIAL BOARD - MARCH 25, 2016
The first witness in the largest human-trafficking trial in Thai history was called to testify last week in a court in Bangkok. The witness, a Rohingya Muslim from Myanmar, told of being beaten and starved by gun-toting captors on the boat that ferried him and more than 200 others to a trafficking camp in Thailand.
That witness is lucky to be alive: The trial was sparked by the grim discovery last May of a mass grave containing more than 30 bodies in a trafficking camp in southern Thailand. Faced with international outrage — and the lowest ranking on the State Department’s 2015 Trafficking in Persons report — the Thai government suddenly cracked down on trafficking rings in the region. Unfortunately, that created another catastrophe when thousands of people being held on the boats were abandoned at sea by panicked traffickers.
Traffickers in Thailand profit from Rohingya fleeing persecution in Myanmar, Bangladeshis seeking work, and women and girls sold into the sex trade. Thailand’s multibillion-dollar fishing industry is also a powerful magnet for trafficking, with victims enslaved on commercial fishing boats. Last month, President Obama signed legislation effectively banning American imports of fish caught by slave labor.
The human-trafficking trial is an opportunity for Thailand to end the impunity that has allowed traffickers, and the officials who collude with them, to operate freely. The 92 defendants in the current trial include politicians, police officers and Lt. Gen. Manas Kongpaen, a senior army officer based in southern Thailand.
With the trial expected to last until the end of this year, the government must ensure the safety of the witnesses. Last December, the top investigator in the case, Maj. Gen. Paween Pongsirin, fled Thailand, saying he feared for his life after uncovering the involvement of senior military officers and other “influential people.”
Some 3.7 million people have fled to Thailand, including an estimated 130,000 refugees. Thailand has not signed the 1951 Refugee Convention, and classifies all refugees as illegal migrants with no right to work legally, making them vulnerable to traffickers. It is time for Thailand to reform its asylum framework. That, together with justice for victims and reforms in the fishing industry, is the only way to end the unconscionable tragedy of human trafficking in Thailand.
Necesitamos la inmigración
Los responsables comunitarios hacen lo posible y lo imposible, vulnerando la legislación internacional y los principios humanitarios más elementales, echando al cubo de la basura los principios sobre los que, en teoría, descansaba el denominado proyecto europeo, para deshacerse de los refugiados y poner freno a la inmigración.
El mensaje es claro: FUERA.
Al mismo tiempo que Europa intenta echar el candado a sus fronteras –reto imposible-, cerrando el paso a los centenares de miles de personas que huyen de la guerra y la pobreza, ganan terreno y espacio político movimientos xenófobos y de extrema derecha. Y también avanza en la derecha más “civilizada” un discurso político que sitúa a la inmigración como problema.
En Alemania, en Francia, en Austria y en otros países europeos prende, entre segmentos cada vez más amplios de la población, el mensaje –simple, equivocado, pero efectivo- de que los inmigrantes representan una amenaza para nuestros estados de bienestar, pues habrá que dedicar recursos públicos (salud y educación) para atenderles, competirán con “nuestros trabajadores” por los empleos disponibles, contribuyendo al aumento del desempleo, y contribuirán a que los salarios se mantengan en niveles bajos.
¡Cuánta ignorancia y miseria moral hay en este diagnóstico! En efecto, se han degradado las políticas públicas, el número de desempleados ha seguido una tendencia alcista y se mantiene en cotas elevadas y los salarios han perdido mucha capacidad adquisitiva; pero no es de recibo culpabilizar a los inmigrantes, que son víctimas y no causantes de este deterioro.
Este planteamiento olvida, además, que los inmigrantes han trabajado y trabajan duro, casi siempre en condiciones infames, en las residencias de ancianos, en la hostelería, en la construcción, en las tareas domésticas, en la agricultura… realizando jornadas interminables y recibiendo a cambio salarios bajísimos, a menudo en condición ilegales, sometidos a la explotación de empresarios sin escrúpulos y a la permisividad de las administraciones públicas que han mirado hacia otro lado. Esa misma población inmigrante que producía, también compraba casas, adquiría hipotecas, abría negocios y consumía bienes y servicios. Todo ello ha contribuido, de manera decisiva a la dinamización de nuestras economías, al aumento del Producto Interior Bruto.
La inmigración ha sido vital a la hora de impulsar nuestras economías y para sostener nuestro modelo económico, incluidos los estados de bienestar. No sólo eso, ahora y en las próximas décadas la necesitamos de manera imperiosa. Para corregir la evolución de las pirámides poblacionales de los países europeos, determinada por la reducción de las tasas de natalidad y el progresivo envejecimiento de la población. Aporta básicamente población joven, por lo que contribuye al rejuvenecimiento de las estructuras demográficas europeas. Aumenta la proporción de la población activa respecto de la inactiva, creando de este modo las condiciones para la sostenibilidad de las pensiones.
Tan sólo se trata de algunas pinceladas, sin mayores pretensiones, de un debate muy necesario sobre el papel de las corrientes inmigratorias en el desempeño de nuestras economías. Este debate, clave para hacer llegar a la población otro mensaje, muy distinto del que se está abriendo camino en Europa, en la actualidad está virtualmente fuera de la agenda política.
A punto de concluir estas líneas, me llegan noticias de que la policía y los antidisturbios están desmantelando el campo de Moria en Levos, expulsando a las ONGs y desalojando a los refugiados -asustados, empapados y ateridos de frio-, para deportarlos a Turquía. Siento angustia, impotencia e indignación por la enorme crisis humanitaria de la que estamos siendo testigos, provocada por las autoridades comunitarias. Urge detenerla, la vida de mucha gente está en juego.
*Profesor de economía aplicada de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid, miembro de econoNuestra y del Consejo Ciudadano Autonómico de Madrid. Blog: Otra Economía (https://fernandoluengo.
wordpress.com/) . En Público.es , 20/03/16
E.U. Aims to Revise Proposed Migrants Deal With TurkeyBy JAMES KANTER - MARCH 16, 2016
BRUSSELS — European Union authorities sought on Wednesday to alter the terms of a provisional agreement brokered by Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany to curb the flow of migrants and refugees streaming into Europe through Turkey.
The revised proposals were put forward by Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, on the eve of a two-day meeting that was supposed to be the deadline for signing a deal with Turkey to ease the bloc’s migration crisis.
Under the deal backed by Ms. Merkel, Turkey would get visa-free travel to much of Europe for its citizens by the summer, accelerated prospects for joining the European Union and more financing to support the nearly three million refugees inside Turkey. In return, Turkey would effectively guard Europe’s eastern shores and take back all migrants who enter Greece using clandestine routes. In addition, for each Syrian sent back, the European Union would resettle a Syrian refugee from Turkey.
Yet the last European Union meeting 10 days ago ended in disarray because the leaders would not consent to the deal.
Mr. Tusk’s revised proposals, which were discussed by representatives of the union’s governments on Wednesday, kept much of the plan put forward by Ms. Merkel intact.
But Mr. Tusk, who represents the bloc’s 28 national leaders, backed important modifications in a bid to tamp down a wave of complaints from human rights groups about the risk of forcible returns of Syrians as a result of that arrangement.
Mr. Tusk also appeared to side with Cyprus, which had reacted furiously to the prospect that Ms. Merkel’s agreement would immediately resume negotiations on European Union membership for Turkey, which has occupied the northern half of Cyprus since 1974.
Turkey was prepared to make “a commitment that migrants returned to Turkey would be protected in accordance with the international standards concerning the treatment of refugees” while Greece would “ensure that migrants already on the Greek islands would be transferred to reception centers on the Greek mainland,” according to the proposals, which are subject to change before a final agreement with Turkey this week.
Mr. Tusk, a former prime minister of Poland, also sought to reassure countries like Bulgaria and Italy that they would not be left exposed to waves of migrants seeking alternatives to Greece to reach other European Union countries.
“Turkey will take any necessary measures to prevent new sea or land routes for illegal migration opening from Turkey to the E.U.,” the revised proposals said.
But in a letter published Wednesday, Mr. Tusk warned leaders before the summit meeting that there still could be no guarantee of success.
“The catalog of issues to be resolved before we can conclude an agreement is long,” he wrote.
With weather conditions improving, journeys to Europe could soon surge and deaths increase on the maritime route to Greece from Turkey across the Aegean Sea. That has raised the pressure on leaders to discourage migrants from taking clandestine routes to Europe.
But the terms of the arrangement Ms. Merkel struck with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu of Turkey incensed some European states.
President Nicos Anastasiades of Cyprus suggested this week that allowing Turkey to resume union membership talks was tantamount to sacrificing his nation’s interests for the short-term gain of bigger member states like Germany. Mr. Anastasiades threatened to veto the deal.
The Hungarian government this week reiterated its opposition to Ms. Merkel’s approach, suggesting that it was naïve to rely on Turkey to guard European borders, partly because migratory routes can shift — and have. Hungary is also vehemently opposed to plans to offer refugees from camps in Syria resettlement in Europe.
Even so, Mr. Tusk’s revised proposals maintained the pledge to resettle one Syrian from a camp in Turkey in exchange for each Syrian who used an irregular route, like crossing the Aegean Sea, to reach Greece. The deal also would still give up about $6.6 billion in aid to help organizations look after the nearly three million migrants already in Turkey.
Alison Smale contributed reporting from Berlin.
A version of this article appears in print on March 17, 2016, on page A6 of the New York edition with the headline: E.U. Seeks Revised Plan to Curb Flow of Refugees
Westbury Schools Agree to Alter Enrollment Policies for ImmigrantsBy BENJAMIN MUELLER - MARCH 1, 2016
The Westbury school district on Long Island became the 22nd in New York to agree to change its enrollment policies for immigrants after a state investigation found that it was unlawfully denying or delaying an education to undocumented children.
The agreement announced on Monday came amid a 16-month review by the state attorney general’s office that uncovered a pattern of schools’ violating state or federal law by asking about children’s immigration status or diverting them into alternative, non-degree-bearing programs.
From 2012 through 2015, Westbury schools asked about students’ citizenship status or for their Social Security numbers, which undocumented immigrants generally would not have, the attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, said. The schools also required students to give proof beyond what the state required that they lived in the district.
As a result, the students — many of them unaccompanied minors from Central and South America — had their enrollments delayed by up to six months, and in some cases they gave up.
A New York Times article in October 2014 documented such problems in Westbury, helping to spur the investigation, which the state’s Education Department joined. A 1982 United States Supreme Court decision found that schools cannot deny access to public education on the basis of immigration status.
Westbury schools were also found to have an unwritten policy of excluding non-English speakers over 16 from the public high school, instead sending them into alternative programs that did not allow them to earn a diploma. Mr. Schneiderman’s office identified nearly 24 students who were diverted, and found that they remained in the alternative programs from one to three years, without regular evaluations by the district.
The district agreed to hire an internal ombudsman and an independent monitor to oversee its enrollment policies, and to offer compensatory schooling to students who faced enrollment delays or diversion in recent years.
A version of this article appears in print on March 2, 2016, on page A25 of the New York edition with the headline: Westbury to Alter Enrollment Policy
Migrants in Greece, Ready to Go Anywhere in Europe, Scramble to Enter E.U. Relocation ProgramBy LIZ ALDERMAN - MARCH 26, 2016
“I’m afraid people will think we are all Daesh,” said Ahmed Arab, a Syrian refugee, last week at his Athens apartment. Credit Angelos Tzortzinis for The New York TimesATHENS — Under the glare of a naked light bulb, in the tiny one-room apartment where he has taken shelter with three other young Syrian refugees, Ismail Haki clutched the folded white card on which he has pinned all his hopes.
“It’s our only chance,” said Mr. Haki, as he and his companions displayed the cards that showed they have applied for asylum in Europe. “If this works, we don’t know what country we’ll end up in. But at least we’d be in Europe.”
The four men arrived in Greece last month after making a perilous trek from Aleppo, the war-torn Syrian city, to find a hoped-for path to Germanyclosed. After languishing in a military camp for two weeks, they turned in desperation to a final option and entered a European Union relocation program that might, if they are lucky, place them almost anywhere in Europe but Germany.
The closing of Europe’s main migrant route to Germany, whose open door policy last year made it a preferred destination for refugees, has stranded more than 50,000 people in Greece. Now, as a European Union deal to start returning new arrivals to Turkey takes effect, many are realizing that their dream of getting into Europe’s prosperous north may be virtually impossible to attain.
Having come this far, migrants are scrambling to figure out how they can stay legally anywhere in Europe, or at least avoid getting deported as new policies to reduce their numbers come into place.
Some are now taking steps to settle in Greece, a battered country that may struggle to integrate them at a time when a quarter of the population is jobless. But many more are vying to get into the European Union relocation program, which is supposed to disperse 160,000 refugees, mostly from the Middle East, in countries across Europe.
“People are scared. A lot of them are saying we have no hope,” said Yousif Karoija, a Syrian who has been living for weeks in Piraeus, the port of Athens, after being tear-gassed when he tried to cross Greece’s northern border. “These people will apply to the relocation program now; they are tired, and will go anywhere in Europe,” he said, sweeping his eyes over a crowd of nearly 5,000 women, children and men camped in squalid conditions around the port.
The timing could not be worse. Since Islamic State assailants bombed Brussels last week in terror attacks that killed 31 people, Europe’s focus has swung sharply to security, raising the prospect of a further tightening of the European Union’s migration policies. The attacks renewed a bitter debate over migrants as right-wing European politicians urged a halt to mass immigration in speeches that conflated refugees with terrorism.
Mr. Arab with his roommates, Mohamoud Sharour, center, and Ismail Haki, right. All of them are Syrian refugees who have applied for asylum.Credit Angelos Tzortzinis for The New York TimesPoland on Wednesday abandoned its pledge to take more than 6,000 migrants under the European Union relocation program, citing the attacks. “We can’t allow for events in Western Europe to happen in Poland,” said Rafal Bochenek, a spokesman for the conservative government.
For Mr. Haki and the men with whom he was sheltered, the future was thrown into question yet again.
“We left a dangerous situation,” said Mr. Haki, who was transferred from a military camp near a muddy refugee encampment in Idomeni to a cramped apartment in a run-down Athens neighborhood after registering for the program with the United Nations refugee agency. “We hope every country will have an open mind. But after Brus
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