(Greece) – Greece has started to return refugees back to Turkey under the agreement that was made between Turkey and the European Union back in March of 2016. In fact, the country has returned two batches of refugees totaling 14 people. The first batch of eight men originally landed in Lesvos and they flew out of the island via a Frontex Border Protection Agency airplane. The second batch of six men returned to Turkey occurred later on in the day.
The second group had four individuals who were from Pakistan and two who were from Algeria. All six of these men decided not to apply for political asylum in Greece. They will be transferred to a refugee camp that is located near Istanbul. They were initially transferred from Lesvos to the Turkish port of Dikili on a boat that was chartered by Frontex.
After a long drought where hardly any refugees and migrants came to Greece, thanks to the border closures in the north of Greece and also the EU-Turkey agreement, the numbers started to pick up again shortly after the coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016. This is the first time that Greece has sent any of the new refugees back to Turkey because of the agreement.
According to the Greek Ministry of Civil Protection, these returns were in compliance with the EU-Turkey agreement since the individuals opted not to seek asylum. Under the agreement, Greece is within its rights to return anyone to Turkey who waives their right to asylum. Over 3500 migrants and refugees have been returned to Turkey for various reasons, including the agreement between the EU and Turkey.
Refugee camps throughout Greece are suffering from overcrowding conditions and morale amongst individuals in the camps is fairly low because the refugees are experiencing long wait times for their asylum applications. Most are eager to move on from Greece and build new lives somewhere else.