1st wave of migrants deported from Greece to Turkey
Migrants who haven't applied or qualified for asylum in Greece to be sent back to Turkey
Migrants camped out on the Greek island of Chios watched the arrival of a Turkish catamaran before it was loaded with some of their fellow migrants on Monday. The ferry held one of the first groups of deportees sent back to Turkey under a new European Union deal.
202 deportees landed in Turkey on Monday.
The first wave of deportees consisted of 202 people, mostly Pakistanis and Afghans, who had not applied for asylum in Greece. They landed back in Turkey under the EU's new deal, which is designed to halt the influx of undocumented migrants and asylum-seekers flooding Western Europe. This group being deported from Lesbos was guarded by European Frontex police.
The plan targets migrants who haven't received asylum.
Under the EU deal, migrants arriving after March 20 are to be held in centres set up on five Aegean islands before being sent back to Turkey if their asylum applications are not accepted.
Over 51,000 refugees hoping to reach northern Europe are stuck in Greece after Balkan states sealed their borders.
Deportees arrive at the Aegean port city of Izmir.
A small Turkish ferry carrying deported migrants arrived in the Turkish port of Izmir on Monday — the designated start date for transfers — which marks a symbolic benchmark in an agreement that has been plagued by concerns over human rights and the adequacy of preparations taken in Greece and Turkey.
Aid groups are questioning Turkey's readiness.
German activists lined the shore in Izmir as the first wave of deportees arrived in Turkey. The terms of the EU-Turkey deal have worried aid groups, as hundreds of migrants continue to land on the Greek islands every day despite the threat of deportation.
Meanwhile, In Izmir, more tents awaited the deportees.
Here's how the deal works:
- For every Syrian among the returnees to Turkey another one, already cleared and waiting in the country, will be resettled in Europe. Under this voluntary part of the plan, up to 72,000 Syrians are expected to be brought to Europe with the EU footing the bill for transportation.
- Turkey is to do all it can to ensure the sea and land routes to Greece are safely closed.
- Though the agreement has been criticized by human rights activists and several political groups in the EU, the UN refugee agency will monitor the deportations.
Mostly economic migrants being deported.
Melissa Fleming, a spokeswoman for the UN's refugee agency, also said that those deported on Monday, mostly economic migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and other countries, "did not express their intention to seek asylum."
On Monday morning, while the first boats from Greece landed in Turkey, 32 Syrians were sent to Germany and 11 to Finland. A further plane load is due in the Netherlands on Tuesday.
In Turkey, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu urged police officers to show compassion to returnees and not to "distinguish them from our own citizens."
These children fenced in at a detention centre on the island of Chios are among some 4,000 migrants and refugees being detained on Greek islands since the agreement came into effect March 20.
With files from Reuters, The Associated Press and Getty Images