First wave of migrants returned to Turkey
Updated: 2016-04-05 08:13
By Agencies in Dikili, Turkey(China Daily)
A migrant is escorted by a Turkish police officer upon his arrival in the Turkish coastal town of Dikili on Monday. Murad Sezer / Reuters
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Three boats shipped scores of migrants from the Greek islands to Turkey on Monday, the first wave of deportations under a hotly-contested pact to ease Europe's worst migration crisis since World War II.
As the sun rose over the Greek islands of Lesbos and Chios, some 200 migrants, mainly from Pakistan and Bangladesh, were ferried back across the Aegean Sea, retracing the perilous journey they took on rickety boats in their desperation to reach Europe.
European Union officials are hoping the deal with Ankara will discourage migrants from making a trek that has claimed hundreds of lives, and curb a human influx which has put immense pressure on the 28-nation bloc.
Yorgos Kyritsis, the Greek government's migration spokesman, said 136 migrants had left from Lesbos, and 66 from Chios.
"These are migrants who did not request asylum in Greece. The majority were Pakistani. There were two Syrians who did not request asylum for personal reasons," he said.
Police and riot officers were present, but "the procedure was very calm, everything was orderly", EU border agency Frontex spokeswoman Ewa Moncure said.
A few dozen activists on Chios protested against the deportations, chanting "Freedom", a witness said.
"Stop the dirty deal", "stop deportations" and "wake up Europe" were among the banners brandished in Lesbos against the disputed EU-Turkey agreement.
A couple of hours later, the first ferry docked in the Turkish coastal town of Dikili.
Red tents have been set up along the town's harbourside to receive the arrivals.
Mustafa Toprak, governor of Turkey's Izmir region, said the migrants would only be staying briefly in Dikili and the resort of Cesme - a second reception point - before being moved on.
But the deal did not seem to completely deter those hoping to reach Europe, for the Turkish coast guard blocked a boatload of about 60 migrants, mostly Afghans, on Monday morning.