Three boats carrying the first migrants to be deported from Greece to Turkey under an EU deal with Ankara have made the short journey across the Aegean Sea to the Turkish port of Dikili.
Two boats carrying 131 deportees arrived from Lesbos. A third, carrying 66 people, came from the nearby island of Chios.
Under the deal with the EU, Ankara is supposed take back all migrants and refugees who enter Greece illegally, including Syrians, in return for the EU taking in thousands of Syrian refugees directly from Turkey and rewarding it with more money, early visa-free travel and progress in its EU membership negotiations.
Officials from the EU border agency Frontex said the Lesbos boats were carrying mostly Pakistanis who were already being deported to Turkey before the deal’s creation. As such Monday’s deportations are not a true test of whether the agreement can stop the flow of mainly Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis to Greece.
EU authorities said none of those deported on Monday had requested asylum in Greece and all had left voluntarily. The Greek civil protection ministry said there were two Syrians on board one of the boats from Lesbos, both of whom had asked to be sent back.
The deportations on Lebsos were calmly carried out at dawn, several hours ahead of schedule. Many deportees carried backpacks. None waved to the few photographers gathered on the quay.
Volunteers on Chios alleged that they saw police beating deportees at the quay.
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The first boat to moor in Dikili was a chartered Turkish catamaran, the Nazli Jale. Frontex officials inside the boat wore masks. Disembarkation was delayed while officials erected a white tarpaulin on the boat to block the media’s view.
Migrants deported to Turkey will be sent to the area in which they first registered their arrival, or if they did not register, to a detention camp in the north-west of the country.
Source: The Guardian