Migrant crisis: Greece starts deportations to Turkey


Source: BBC

The first boats carrying migrants being deported from Greece have arrived in Turkey as part of an EU plan aimed at easing mass migration to Europe.

Most of the 202 people who left Lesbos and Chios, and arrived at Dikili in western Turkey, are Pakistanis.

Under the deal, for each Syrian migrant returned to Turkey, the EU is due to take in another Syrian who has made a legitimate request.

Thirty-two Syrian migrants were the first to arrive in Germany from Turkey.

They were flown to Hanover in Lower Saxony, officials say.

The Greek authorities say 130 of those returned to Turkey on Monday were from Pakistan. There were 42 migrants from Afghanistan and others from Iran, Sri Lanka and Morocco, as well as several other countries.

Two Syrians were on board, and the Greek authorities insisted that those deported only included migrants who had not sought asylum.

The first returns were carried out calmly, Ewa Moncure, spokeswoman for the EU border agency Frontex, told reporters in Lesbos.

Activists staged small protests there and some shouted “No to deportations” and “EU, shame on you”.

There was also a demonstration in Dikili.

Refugees are escorted by Turkish police as they arrive by ferry from the Greek island of Lesvos (Lesbos) at the Dikili harbour in Izmir, TurkeyImage copyrightEPA
Image captionThe first group of returned migrants were welcomed by Turkish officials in Dikili

Under the EU-Turkish deal, migrants arriving illegally in Greece are expected to be sent back to Turkey if they do not apply for asylum or if their claim is rejected.

Shortly after the returns started, Greek coast officials rescued two boats near Lesbos with more than 50 migrants, including children and a woman in a wheelchair, Reuters news agency says.

Disputed deal

Migrants in Greece have complained of a lack of information about the asylum procedure and some say they were unaware they could be returned.

Frontex has been calling on EU member states to come forward with additional police officers and other staff to bring its mission in Greece up to strength.

At the scene: Mark Lowen, BBC News, western Turkey

Activists hold a banner which says Image copyrightReuters
Image captionIn Dikili, demonstrators displayed a banner against the deportations

Three boats docked at Dikili port, a tiny fraction of those still stuck in Greece, and were met by local officials and the Turkish Red Crescent.

They were registered in a small tent before being driven away on buses.

Most of Monday’s arrivals were from Pakistan. They, with other non-Syrians, will be taken to deportation centres where their cases will be assessed.

Turkey has now signed readmission agreements with fourteen countries. Syrians refused asylum in Greece will be taken to refugee camps in southern Turkey where, in time, they will take the place of those Syrians directly resettled in the EU under the so-called “one-for-one plan”.

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