At a summit in Brussels on November 29th, the European Union finalised an agreement with Turkey to try to reduce the flow. But the deal looks nearly as patchy as the dinghies migrants are crossing in. The Europeans set aside their worries about the growing authoritarianism of Turkey’s government and promised €3 billion ($3.2 billion) in aid for refugees along with a package of political goodies. These included restarting Turkey’s stalled EU accession process and visa-free travel for its citizens as early as October 2016. In exchange the EU expects Turkey to keep the migrants away.
Perhaps the biggest problem refugees face in Turkey is not lack of benefits, but the inability to integrate. Syrians enjoy “temporary protection” in Turkey, but not full refugee status, meaning they cannot get work permits. “Lack of status is the main push factor” driving migrants to leave, says Metin Corabatir of the Research Centre on Asylum and Migration, a Turkish think-tank.Most Syrians do not speak Turkish, so they have trouble communicating and their children are not going to school, by and large. In essence, Turkey does not want a huge refugee population any more than do European countries, and so it is likely that the refugees will keep trying to get out of Turkey and head to Europe. Smugglers will quickly adapt to whatever changes are put into place. We get back to the fact that the only way to stem the flow of refugees is to put an end to the fighting in Syria, but no one seems to know how to do that.