Wednesday 21 February 2018

First ship deporting migrants from Greece reaches Turkey

The first vessel transporting migrants from Greece has docked in Turkey, putting into practice a European Union plan to stem migration to Europe.

At dawn on the Greek island of Lesbos, an initial group of migrants were escorted on to two small ferries by officers from the EU border protection agency, Frontex.

The first vessel, the Nazli Jale, reached the port of Dikili accompanied by the Turkish coast guard.

Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency put the number of migrants at 131 and said they were mostly Pakistani nationals.

A Turkish government official told the Association Press that authorities were expecting 202 people.

A total of 50,000 migrants and refugees are stranded in Greece following EU and Balkan border closures, but only those who arrived after March 20 will be detained for deportation.

Meanwhile, the first Syrians sent from Turkey as part of the deal with the EU have landed in Germany.

The 16 Syrian refugees landed in the central German city of Hannover aboard a scheduled flight from Turkey and were being taken to accommodation in the region, news agency dpa reported.

Another 16 Syrians were expected in Hannover later in the day.

Last month's EU-Turkey deal aims to control the mass influx of people into Europe, many of whom have crossed the Aegean Sea with the help of smugglers.

Returns to Turkey of migrants arriving illegally in Greece who did not apply for asylum or had their claims rejected started Monday; in return, EU countries are to take in Syrians with legitimate asylum claims.

Press Association

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