Third wave of migrants returned to Turkey from Greece

AP News
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Posted: Apr 26, 2016 1:52 PM
Third wave of migrants returned to Turkey from Greece

ISTANBUL (AP) — Dozens of migrants arrived in Turkey on Tuesday, Turkish officials said, as part of a migration deal with the European Union meant to stem the flow of people heading to Europe's prosperous heartland.

Ferries carrying a total of 49 migrants from the Greek islands of Kos, Chios and Lesbos reached the Turkish port towns of Gulluk, Cesme and Dikili, according to Turkish news agencies and an official at Dikili, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government rules.

According to the deal finalized last month, Turkey will take back migrants who reached Greece after March 20, unless they successfully apply for asylum in Greece. For every Syrian among those returned, Europe has pledged to take a Syrian refugee directly from Turkey to be resettled in an EU country.

Tuesday's group, from Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Myanmar, was the third wave of migrants to be returned to Turkey.

As part of the deal, some refugee camps on the eastern Aegean Greek islands have been turned into closed detention centers holding those who face potential deportation.

One of those is Moria camp on Lesbos, where a protest broke out Tuesday during a visit there by the Greek migration affairs minister and a Dutch official.

A Greek official said Ioannis Mouzalas was visiting the camp with Dutch junior justice minister Klaas Dijkhoff when migrants began shouting "freedom" and "open the borders," and banging metal objects. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with department regulations.

Police said the unrest began in the section housing unaccompanied teenagers, with protesters starting fires by burning trash. Riot police were on standby outside the camp, police said, adding that the situation was tense but under control.

Dijkhoff, whose country currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, was visiting Greece to check on progress of implementing the EU-Turkey deal.

The agreements "offer perspective, but their success can't be taken for granted. It is of the utmost importance that member states live up to their side of the deals," Dijkhoff said in a statement released before the protest.

"That means we have to help Greece deal with asylum applications and the return of migrants. Member states also have to accept Syrians from Turkey in return for the migrants being sent back to Turkey."

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Elena Becatoros in Athens, Greece, and Mike Corder in The Hague, Netherlands, contributed to this report.