Greece expels first migrants to Turkey

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

Scores of migrants boarded ferries on the Greek island of Lesbos and arrived in Dikili, western Turkey.

Frontex, the EU’s border agency, told the BBC that most of the 136 people who left Lesbos on Monday were Pakistanis.

Meanwhile, the first group of 16 Syrian migrants has arrived in Germany from Turkey, officials say.

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.

However, Greek authorities said the first deportees were those who had not applied for asylum, and included citizens from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Morocco.

And Turkey’s EU Affairs Minister Volkan Bozkir said there were no Syrians among the first group of migrants sent from Greece.

Another ferry carrying migrants to Turkey is also due to leave the Greek island of Chios on Monday.

The returns were carried out calmly, despite a small protest at the gate of Lesbos port, where activists shouted ‘No to deportations’ and ‘EU shame on you’.

Under the EU-Turkey 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.

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

Frontex has less than one-tenth of the staff needed to do the job, the Associated Press reported.

Both Turkey and Greece have made a panicked rush to meet this deadline – and neither country is really ready.

Only a fraction of the necessary staff have arrived on the Greek islands to accompany the process and in Turkey the preparation is still sketchy.

Two tents have been erected in Dikili to register the first group from Lesbos, with similar facilities further south to receive migrants sent from Chios.

The Turkish interior minister says non-Syrians will be deported while Syrians will be sent to refugee camps where they will replace those who will be directly resettled in Europe as part of the “one for one” plan.

But there are still grave doubts over whether the deal will hold and if the migrants will be properly treated when they arrive here.

BBC/Nnenna.O