EU, Turkey to Exchange First Migrants Under Agreement

EU | April 4, 2016, Monday // 09:11|  views

Migrant seen walking along a fence line at the make-shift refugee camp at the Greek-Macedonian border, in Idomeni, Greece, 19 March 2016. Photo: EPA

The EU and Turkey are expected on Monday to exchange the first groups of Syrian migrants as had been agreed at a summit in March in an effort to stem the influx of migrants from Turkey to Europe.

According to the agreement, migrants who have entered Greece illegally starting from March 20, will be subject to return to Turkey if they do not apply for asylum or if their request is rejected.

For every Syrian returned from the Greek islands to Turkey another Syrian will be resettled from Turkey to the EU.

The first group of migrants could be seen boarding ferries at the Greek island of Lesbos to be sent across the Aegean Sea to Dikili in western Turkey on Monday morning.

Turkish authorities are expecting to receive around 500 people on Monday, with their Greek counterparts having provided the names of 400 migrants. Another ferry is expected to set sail in the direction of Turkey from the Greek island of Chios.

There have been concerns over the lack of preparation and the shortage of Frontex officials capable of handling the migrants on the Greek islands. Migrants have complained of the lack of information.

Turkish authorities have said that they will deport non-Syrians, while Syrians will be sent to refugee camps.

Thousands of migrants have been stranded in Greece after the closure of the Western Balkan migrant route has prevented them from continuing their onward journey to western Europe.

In exchange for accepting the deal, the EU has promised to double the initially foreseen EUR 3 B to be provided in humanitarian aid to Turkey, accelerate Ankara’s accession negotiations and lift visas for Turkish citizens travelling to the Schengen Area by the end of June.

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Tags: migrants, greece, turkey, EU, Lesbos, Chios, Aegean Sea, Asylum, refugee


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