Greece Begins Deportation of Migrants, Refugees

The deportations started Monday as part of an EU-Turkey deal that aims to curb the flow of migrants

A Frontex officer escorts a migrant as he boards on a boat to Turkey. — (REUTERS)
Apr 04, 2016 at 3:15 AM ET

Greece started deporting migrants and refugees to Turkey on Monday as part of an EU-Turkey deal that aims to curb the flow of migrants to Europe and has been slammed as a major blow to human rights.

A total of 202 people—mostly men—were deported, including people from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran, as well as other nations, the Associated Press reports. Two Syrians also voluntarily left Greece.

More Migrants Panic As Greece Plans For Deportations

The head of Amnesty International in Greece said in a tweet that people on the Greek island of Lesbos on Friday were given a document explaining how the EU-Turkey deal affects them.

The UN Refugee Agency held information sessions with those being returned to explain their rights and the procedures for seeking asylum, Melissa Fleming, UNHCR’s chief spokesperson said.

The deportations come weeks after the EU and Turkey signed an agreement that seeks to discourage migrants and refugees from entering Europe via sea. The deal stipulates that “irregular migrants” who have arrived since March 20 can be sent to Turkey if they don’t apply or qualify for asylum.

In the first three months of 2016 alone, 151,104 migrants and refugees took the sea route from Turkey to Greece, while another 18,742 traveled from North Africa to Italy, according to the International Organization for Migration.