Thursday

22nd Feb 2018

Greece begins migrant deportations to Turkey

  • Greece has begun to return those who arrived on boats to Greece since 20 March (Photo: CAFOD Photo Library)

Greece has returned the first migrants to Turkey under an EU deal to ease the flow of people into Europe.

According to the vice-mayor of Lesbos, 136 people left the island on Monday (4 April). He said they were mostly from Pakistan, according to the BBC.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Another ferry from the island of Chios is also expected to leave later.

A total of roughly 750 people will returned from the Greek islands by Wednesday, according to Greece’s state news agency.

Turkey has made preparations to receive around 500 people in Dikili, western Turkey.

"We have been in touch with the Greek authorities and said we could take 500 people and they have given us 400 names. Tomorrow it's possible that this figure could change," Turkish interior minister Efkan Ala was quoted as saying by AFP on Sunday.

Ala suggested citizens of countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan would be returned to their home countries.

He said Syrians would be sent to refugee camps to replace those who will be directly resettled in Europe as part of the “one for one” plan.

Under the EU-Turkey deal, aimed at discouraging people from using irregular migration routes into Europe, Greece would send back everyone who fails to apply for asylum, or if their claim is rejected.

For each returned Syrian, the EU agreed to take in another Syrian directly from Turkey.

The deal has been heavily criticised by rights group who say mass return of refugees is contrary to international law and warn that Turkey is not a safe country for many of them.

“This is the first day of a very difficult time for refugee rights. Despite the serious legal gaps and lack of adequate protection in Turkey, the EU is forging ahead with a dangerous deal,” Giorgos Kosmopoulos, head of Amnesty International in Greece, told the Associated Press.

Migrants in Chios have protested against their planned return to Turkey, saying they were unaware of that possibility, and complained about the lack of information on asylum procedure.

Around 4,000 migrants and refugees have been detained on Greek islands since the EU-Turkey agreement came into force on 20 March.

Daily arrivals have dropped to about 300-400 from the previous 2,000.

According to the UN’s refugee agency, 51,000 people have been stranded in Greece after northern countries closed their borders.

Germany: More deals needed

Germany's interior minister Thomas de Maiziere suggested on Sunday that deals with northern African countries may be needed to prevent more migrant arrivals.

Germany, which took in more than one million refugees and migrants last year, has already seen arrivals drop sharply to 140 a day on its Austrian border, he told Tagesspiegel am Sonntag newspaper.

“I can say with a great deal of caution that the peak of the refugee crisis is behind us,” he said.

Be he added that if people start coming through alternative routes, like Libya and Italy, similar deals might be necessary as with Turkey.

“If, once more, more people come via this route, we will need to search for similar solutions as we did with Turkey and also enter into negotiations with North African countries,” he said.

Austria has meanwhile seen around a 1,500 pro-migrant protesters clash with police at the Brenner border crossing with Italy.

It comes after Austrian defence minister Peter Doskozil said on Saturday that soldiers would be deployed at the key transit point, as fears grow that migrants might start using the Mediterranean route to Italy.

“As the EU's external borders are not yet effectively protected, Austria will soon ramp up strict border controls. That means massive border controls at the Brenner Pass, and with soldiers,” Doskozil said.

Greece struggles to launch EU-Turkey plan

Hundreds of migrants arrived on Greek islands over the weekend, as authorities scramble to implement a deal to send them swiftly back to Turkey.

Agenda

EU-Turkey migrant swap to begin next WEEK

Big week to see start of EU migrant returns to Turkey, sensitive talks in Poland on judicial reform, and a Dutch referendum on EU relations masquerading as a vote on Ukraine.

EU-Turkey deal gets reality check

The EU-Turkey deal that came into force on Sunday has not deterred migrants crossing the Aegean sea on its first day. But it raises many questions as Greek and Turkish legal frameworks still need to be set up.

EU sends back 200 migrants, despite legal concerns

Greece returned 202 migrants to Turkey on Monday. The EU has pledged that everyone's rights will be respected. But the UN says Monday's returns might have involved 13 violations.

Frontex naval operation to look for 'foreign fighters'

The EU border and coast guard agency, or Frontex, has launched a new naval operation called Themis. The operation replaces its surveillance Triton mission but with a bigger emphasis on security and intelligence gathering.

News in Brief

  1. Belgian PM to host 11 EU leaders ahead of summit
  2. Tusk all but rules out pan-EU candidates in 2019 elections
  3. Tusk: EU budget agreed before 2019 elections 'unrealistic'
  4. Commission fines car cartels €546m
  5. Juncker: 'nothing' wrong in Katainen meeting Barroso
  6. Juncker appoints new head of cabinet
  7. MEPs decide not to veto fossil fuel projects list
  8. Factory relocation risks drawing Vestager into Italian election

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  2. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  3. International Climate ShowSupporting Start-Ups & SMEs in the Energy Transition. 21 February in Brussels
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  5. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  6. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  8. EPSUMovie Premiere: 'Up to The Last Drop' - 22 February, Brussels
  9. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  10. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  12. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP

Latest News

  1. UK seeks flexible transition length after Brexit
  2. Commission defence of Barroso meeting leaves 'discrepancies'
  3. MEPs bar WMD and killer robots from new EU arms fund
  4. Canete gets EU parliament pension while still commissioner
  5. Bank of Latvia sends deputy to ECB amid bribery probe
  6. We are not (yet) one people
  7. Intellectual property protection - the cure for Europe's ills
  8. Eastern states push back at rule of law conditions on funds

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name
  2. Dialogue PlatformBeyond the Errors in the War on Terror: How to Fight Global Militarism - 22 February
  3. Swedish EnterprisesHarnessing Globalization- at What Cost? Keynote Speaker Commissioner Malmström
  4. European Friends of ArmeniaSave The Date 28/02: “Nagorno-Karabakh & the EU: 1988-2018”
  5. European Heart NetworkSmart CAP is Triple Win for Economy, Environment and Health
  6. European Free AlllianceEFA Joined the Protest in Aiacciu to Solicit a Dialogue After the Elections
  7. EPSUDrinking Water Directive Step Forward but Human Right to Water Not Recognized
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationGambling Operators File Data Protection Complaint Against Payment Block in Norway
  9. European Jewish CongressEJC Expresses Deep Concern Over Proposed Holocaust Law in Poland
  10. CECEConstruction Industry Gets Together to Discuss the Digital Revolution @ the EU Industry Days
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Relations in the New Era
  12. European Free AlllianceEnd Discrimination of European Minorities - Sign the Minority Safepack Initiative