Turkish coast guards stop 330 migrants from reaching Greek island of Lesbos

Turkish authorities have intercepted a total of 330 migrants attempting to cross to the Greek island of Lesbos, Reuters news agency reported on Sunday. 

A total of seven operations to pick up migrants trying to make the crossing were conducted since Saturday evening by the coastguard in the town of Küçükkuyu in Turkey’s western province of Çanakkale, it said. 

The migrants are Afghan, Syrian, Iranian and Iraqi nationals, Reuters said, adding that there was a recent spike in the number or migrants attempting to cross to Lesbos with 699 people being seized since Aug. 10.

Turkey is one of the main departure points for migrants seeking to enter Europe by sea, but a 2016 agreement with the European Union sharply cut the numbers of refugees using that route.

According to the March 2016  EU-Turkey refugee deal, the EU promised the allocation of € 3 billion in aid to Turkey to help migrants. The deal also included the end of visa restrictions applied to Turkish citizens when travelling to Europe as of June 2016, yet the visa restrictions still remain.