Photo by nonviolent peaceforce showing Syrian refugees in Piraeus port, Greece
The controversial EU-Turkey refugee one for one deal began in the early hours of Monday 4th of April. Migrants from the refugee camps off the Greek Islands of Lesbos and Chios were shepherded onto boats filled with Greek security for their return journey to the coastal town Dikili, in western Turkey.
The EU –Turkey deal stipulates that the EU will receive one Syrian refugee for every Syrian refugee deported from Greece. Those to be deported are asylum seekers and refugees who have either been refused or have not applied for asylum or those who entered the region illegally.
However, reports from Turkish authorities have stated that no Syrians have been sent to Turkey as of yet.
Greek authorities have also stated that there are no Syrians amongst the 202 refugees being loaded onto the boats, the majority were either from central Asia or North Africans; with Turkish officials declaring that all non-Syrian refugees will be deported.
According to Associated Press, Frontex, the EU border agency has been overwhelmed by the deal and understaffed with only 10% of the staff available to carry out procedures.
Protests have been held on both sides of the costal border, with campaigners in Greece calling for ‘No deportation’, while in Turkey, protestors have held up banners saying, ‘Stop deportations. Open borders’.
The deal has come under heavy criticism from many charities, head of Amnesty International in Greece, Giorgos Kosmopoulos, speaking to the Associated Press, said, "This is the first day of a very difficult time for refugee rights. Despite the serious legal gaps and lack of adequate protection in Turkey, the EU is forging ahead with a dangerous deal."
While, Save the Children’s communication manager Sacha Myers, criticised the procedures in place and the effect it is having on refugee’s physical and mental state. "We are concerned the deal began overnight without any consideration for the proper resourcing of these facilities that are meant to house large groups of people for potentially long periods of time. There are reports of protests and people have told us they will commit suicide if they are sent back to Turkey. People are absolutely desperate.”