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Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Migrant crisis: Greece halts deportations to Turkey

Greece paused deportations of migrants to Turkey on Tuesday, a day after the first boats took back 202 people under a controversial EU plan to cut off a migrant route to Europe.

Hundreds more are due to be removed later this week, but the migrants are arriving in Greece faster than they can be sent back.

More than 220 reached the Greek islands on Monday alone, according to the UN.

An increase in asylum claims has also reduced those eligible for deportation.

Under the EU deal with Turkey, migrants arriving illegally in Greece after 20 March are expected to be sent back to Turkey if they do not apply for asylum or if their claim is rejected.

For each Syrian migrant returned to Turkey, the EU is due to take in another Syrian who has made a legitimate request. Two Syrians were deported from Greece on Monday, while 32 were flown from Turkey to Germany and 11 to Finland on Monday. Another 31 Syrians arrived in the Netherlands on Tuesday.

Although it was initially thought that none of the 202 migrants sent from Lesbos and Chios to the Turkish coastal town of Dikili on Monday had claimed asylum, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has revealed that 13 of them had expressed an interest but had not been registered by Greek authorities.

"We have expressed concern that this deal is being implemented before the necessary safeguards are in place in Greece and in Turkey, including that it's being rushed - and is premature," UN spokesman Boris Cheshirkov told the BBC.

He said the UN would now work with Turkey to ensure that the 13, including Afghans, would have their applications processed there...
 BBC
5/4/16

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