First migrants leave from Greece as EU-Turkey deal comes into force | News | DW | 04.04.2016
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First migrants leave from Greece as EU-Turkey deal comes into force

The first boatload of migrants has arrived in Turkey from the Greek island of Lesbos. It's the beginning of a controversial plan to stem the flow of refugees to Europe, one some view as illegal.

Syrian asylum seekers arrive in Hannover

The first Syrian asylum seekers to enter the EU legally from Turkey under the new deal arrive in Hannover

The first migrants and refugees arrived on Monday morning in Dikili, on the Turkish coast.

Originally camped out in Greece, they had been loaded onto buses and shipped to Lesbos, where they were then placed on ferries bound for Turkey.

The initial group of people who will be sent back across the Aegean Sea as part of a deal reached by Brussels and Ankara, the 136 migrants were escorted onto one of two Turkish leisure vessels by officers of the EU border protection agency Frontex. They were made up of Pakistanis and some from Bangladesh, Reuters news agency reported.

On Lesbos, activists gathered to protest the move, DW correspondent Oliver Sallet reported.

Ankara said it was prepared to receive around 500 migrants on Monday. The government had been working on setting up reception centers in Dikili for the newly arrived foreigners as late as Sunday.

Another Turkish vessel carrying a further 66 migrants from the Greek island of Chios arrived in the Turkish port town later in the day.

First group arrives in Germany

Meanwhile, the first Syrian aslyum seekers to enter the European Union legally from Turkey under the new deal landed in the northern German city of Hanover on Monday.

The six families - 32 people in all - arrived on two planes from Istanbul. They were then taken by bus to a reception center in Friedland.

Finland's Interior Ministry said 11 Syrian asylum seekers had also arrived by plane at Helsinki airport, before being taken to a reception center, pending a decision on where they will be settled. Another group is expected to arrive in the Netherlands on Tuesday.

Turkish passenger boat

This ferry took the first group of people on Monday morning

'One for one'

Under the stipulations of the agreement, which went into effect on March 20, Turkey will accept rejected migrants from the EU, which in turn will accept from Turkey one Syrian asylum seeker for every Syrian it sends back. The EU has capped the number of Syrians it is willing to take in at 72,000.

The EU-Turkey agreement has drawn criticism from all sides, including European countries like Austria, which has cast doubt on the effectiveness of the plan. The UN has also criticized the plan, citing the illegality of mass deportations without the right to claim asylum.

A UN refugee agency spokesman told AFP news agency there had been a spike in the number of visa applications in Greece.

"We...have over two thousand people that have stated their wish to seek asylum and we need to see a credible process go ahead with the Greek asylum service for those that wish to express their protection concerns," Boris Cheshirkov said.

Around 4,000 migrants have been detained on the Greek islands since the deal was reached.

Watch video 00:36

First ship deporting migrants reaches Turkey

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