Repatriation of migrants to Turkey continues

Two ferries carrying more than 120 migrants returned to Turkey from the Greek island of Lesbos on Friday, in the second round of arrivals under an EU deal with Ankara to stem mass migration to Europe across the Aegean Sea.

The accord, which came into force on Monday, aims to help end a chaotic influx into the European Union of migrants and refugees, most fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and beyond, after more than 1 million arrived last year.

Around 325 people have now been sent back from the Greek islands under the accord, which the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) has condemned and rights advocates say may violate international law.

They are to be sent to a camp near Turkey’s border with Bulgaria, to which the UNHCR said it had yet to gain access.

The first ferry on Friday carried a group of 44 Pakistani men, Turkey’s interior ministry said.

Around two dozen uniformed Turkish police officers lined the boarding plank after it docked in the Turkish town of Dikili, accompanied by two coast guard vessels.

The second ferry, which arrived shortly after 12:30 p.m. (930 GMT), carried 79 people, including migrants from Egypt, Afghanistan and Iraq, a Turkish official said.

Reuters/UO