Migrant crisis: Over 120 more people deported to Turkey

Protests in Lesbos as boats resume between Greece and Turkey under EU deal

Activists swim as they try to interfere the deportation of  migrants on board a ferry set to sail for Turkey in the port of Mytilini on the Greek island of Lesbos. Photograph:  Petros Giannakouris/AP

Activists swim as they try to interfere the deportation of migrants on board a ferry set to sail for Turkey in the port of Mytilini on the Greek island of Lesbos. Photograph: Petros Giannakouris/AP

 

Two boats carrying more than 120 migrants arrived in Turkey from the Greek island of Lesbos on Friday, in the second round of deportations under the EU-Turkey relocation plan.

Turkish officials confirmed that 44 men from Pakistan arrived on the first boat which arrived at the Turkish port town of Dikili on Friday morning accompanied by two coast guard vessels. The second ferry carried 79 people of Egyptian, Iraqi and Afghan nationality. Agencies on the ground reported that protests took place in the camps on the Greek island ahead of the deportation, with activists jumping into the sea as the first boat embarked before being detained by the coast guard.

The EU-Turkey resettlement plan, which entered into force on Monday, is the European Union’s latest attempt to deal with an unprecedented refugee crisis which saw more than one million migrants arrive in the European Union last year.

So far this week approximately 325 people have been moved from Greece to Turkey, with 202 people deported in boats on Monday. Fewer than 100 Syrians have been relocated to Germany, Finland and the Netherlands from Turkish refugee camps under the so-called one-for-one resettlement plan which will see migrants directly resettled in EU countries from Turkey.

Refugees arriving in the port town of Dikili have been moved by bus to a camp in Kirklareli near the Bulgarian border.

Some 4,000 refugees who arrived on the Greek islands since the announcement of the EU-Turkey deal on March 18th are being held in camps awaiting assessment.

Criticism

Syria

German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Francois Hollande indicated on Thursday that the EU may consider a scheme similar to the one devised with Turkey to respond to refugee flows arriving from Libya into Europe.

“If we can establish the same with Libya as what we’re working on with Turkey, as well as on our own borders: we have much to do,” the German chancellor said after talks with her French counterpart in the French town of Metz near the German border. “Huge numbers of refugees could make their way again to Malta, to Italy, tens of thousands of people,” Hollande said.

New figures published on Friday showed that the number of asylum applications in Germany surged in the first quarter of the year as officials processed a backlog of asylum applications from last year.

More than 181,000 applications for asylum were received in the first quarter of the year, half of which were made by Syrian nationals.

The asylum approval rate was 61.6 percent, authorities said, compared to 42 per cent before the refugee crisis, reflecting the sharp jump in Syrian refugees entering the country.

The European Parliament will debate the controversial EU-Turkey agreement next Wednesday at the parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg, with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker due to update MEPs on the deal.