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Migrant flow to Greece continues despite returns to Turkey

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Migrant flow to Greece continues despite returns to Turkey



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Day and night, migrants continue to land in Greece, despite the start of deportations to Turkey under an EU deal aimed at stemming the flow.

Altogether, more people arrived on the Greek islands in the 24 hours to Monday morning when the returns began than were sent back to Turkey yesterday, Greek authorities said, putting total arrivals at 339.

Firaz Kassem, 31, from Hasakah in Syria, is one of the newcomers to have reached Lesbos.

“I have not heard that they are sending Syrians back to Turkey,” he said.

“I heard that maybe Iranians, Persians, Afghans… but I didn’t hear they are taking Syrians back to Turkey.”

He added: “We are just going to try our chance. Just follow our destiny. We don’t know… We are dead anyway.”

However, under its pact with Europe, criticised by human rights groups, Ankara is taking back all migrants and refugees who have illegally entered Greece after March 20, including Syrians, if they fail to apply for asylum or if their claim is turned down.

Of Monday’s more than 200 returnees to Turkey, many were Pakistanis and Afghans.

For each Syrian sent back, another Syrian is being resettled in the EU, directly from Turkey.

German police said the first 32 Syrian refugees arrived in Hanover on two flights from Istanbul on Monday under the deal.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of migrants remain stranded in Greece, with closed borders stopping them reaching northern Europe.

Many are stuck at Idomeni on the Macedonian frontier, where some blockaded a main highway on Monday, bringing traffic to a standstill in protest at their own journey having ground to a halt.


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