You are here
Greece to expel more migrants under EU-Turkey deal on Friday
[ATHENS] Greece is preparing to expel more migrants on Friday under a controversial EU-Turkey agreement, four days after a first batch was shipped over, officials said Thursday.
A police source on the island of Lesbos said some 50 migrants of undisclosed nationality would be sent back to Turkey.
A government source said the operation would take place unless the migrants decided to apply for asylum at the last minute.
"Whoever applies for asylum is removed from the list," the second official told AFP.
A first batch of 202 migrants were sent to Turkey from the islands of Lesbos and Chios on Monday, sparking a flurry of asylum demands and forcing Greek authorities to delay further expulsions as they have to examine the demands individually.
Greek officials now expect a two-week delay before the first of those asylum applications are examined by authorities.
Fear of deportation has prompted acts of desperation in some of the camps where migrants are held.
On Thursday, some 150 migrants broke out of a camp on the island of Samos but were later persuaded to return, the government source said.
A similar incident occurred on the island of Chios last week.
Dozens of migrants on Samos and Lesbos also claim to have begun a hunger strike to prevent their expulsion and demand the reopening of borders shut by Balkan nations last month.
One Pakistani hunger striker collapsed in Moria, the main camp on Lesbos, and was taken for treatment by medical charity Medecins du Monde.
Also a Pakistani held in Samos, told AFP that a dozen of his countrymen were on hunger strike there.
"They told us to apply for asylum in Greece and that if not, we are going to be sent back to Turkey.
"We risked our lives to come here, we don't want to go back to Turkey because they are going to send us back to Pakistan. We don't want to apply for asylum in Greece, we want to go to Germany," Mr Ali said.
Under the terms of the EU-Turkey deal, all "irregular migrants" arriving on the Greek islands from Turkey since March 20 face being sent back, although the accord calls for each case to be examined individually.
And for every Syrian refugee returned, another Syrian refugee will be resettled from Turkey to the EU, with numbers capped at 72,000.
In return, Turkey is slated to receive benefits including visa-free travel for its citizens to Europe, which in the accord is promised "at the latest" by June 2016.
There are at least 3,000 migrants from various countries detained in Lesbos and about 800 in Samos.
Pope Francis, who used his recent Easter address to criticise the "rejection" of refugees, is to visit Lesbos on April 16.