Returning some boat people at last under a deal that will cost Europe terribly – yet more still come than go:
The first migrants deported from Greek islands under a disputed EU-Turkey deal were shipped back to Turkey on Monday in a drive to shut down the main route used by more than a million people fleeing war and poverty to reach Europe in the last year.
Under a pact criticized by refugee agencies and human rights campaigners, Ankara will take back all migrants and refugees who cross the Aegean to enter Greece illegally, including Syrians.
In return, the European Union will take in thousands of Syrian refugees directly from Turkey and reward it with money, visa-free travel and progress in its EU membership negotiations.
Two Turkish passenger boats carrying 136 mostly Pakistani migrants arrived from the island of Lesbos in the Turkish town of Dikili… A third ship carrying 66 people, mainly Afghans, arrived there later from the island of Chios…
EU authorities said none of those deported on Monday had requested asylum in Greece and all had left voluntarily… Altogether, more people arrived on the Greek islands in the 24 hours to Monday morning than were transported to Turkey, Greek authorities said, putting total arrivals at 339.
A few hours later the first Syrian asylum-seekers to enter the EU legally and directly from Turkey under the bloc’s €6 billion ($9bn) deal with Ankara landed at Hanover airport.
The 24 refugees were taken to a reception centre in Friedland near Goettingen in northern Germany. A further 18 refugees were expected to arrive at the airport overnight. Others were heading to France, Finland and Portugal.
But the process quickly became bogged down when migrants on Lesbos and Chios saw the deportations and quickly applied for asylum in Greece. The Athens News Agency said the deportations had been put on hold until the asylum applications were processed and expulsions planned for the coming days had been cancelled “for lack of people who can legally be deported”.