Greece sends first refugees back to Turkey under new EU deal

Lesbos, Greece (CNN)The first few ferries carrying hundreds of migrants have arrived in Turkey from Greece under a new controversial deal with the EU.

Three boats arrived in the Turkish port city of Dikili after departing the Greek island of Lesbos in the early hours of Monday morning.
    The deportation from Greece was carried out without incident, although the echoes of protesters outside the port gates could be heard and police were on hand in case tensions arose.
    So far, authorities are keeping tight-lipped about the process. Not much is known about the individuals boarding these boats — how they were chosen or their nationalities — but according to one U.N. official, each vessel leaving is expected to carry 125 migrants.
    CNN saw no women or children, only men board onto the boats in Lesbos.

    Contentious deal

    The highly controversial deal was struck last month as Europe struggles with the influx of more than 1 million people into its borders. It is the largest number of migrants and refugees, many displaced by the Syrian civil war, into the region since World War II. Still it pales compared to the more than 2.7 million registered in Turkey alone.
    Under the terms of the new deal, those who cross into Greece illegally by sea from March 20 will be sent back to Turkey. For every person resettled in Turkey, one will go from Turkey to Europe.


    On Friday, a report released by Amnesty International condemned the EU agreement and said Turkey has been forcibly sending people back to Syria, constituting a violation of international law.
    The report said it found many cases of large-scale returns from the Turkish province of Hatay, and called it an “open secret in the region.”
    “In their desperation to seal their borders, EU leaders have willfully ignored the simplest of facts: Turkey is not a safe country for Syrian refugees and is getting less safe by the day,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.

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