The Europe Union began deporting migrants to Turkey on Monday as part of a new plan to deal with its refugee crisis. Three ferries loaded with more than 200 people left the Greek islands of Lesbos and Chios and headed for the Turkish town of Dikili. Once there, the migrants were shepherded to detention centers.
Even as the deportations were underway, about 100 more migrants arrived in Lesbos on rafts, The Washington Post's Griff Witte reported:
At dawn, a group of them stood shivering under gray woolen blankets in the port, some clutching babies in their arms.
“We were on the sea for six hours. We had so many problems,” said Shahid Kamran, a 24-year-old Pakistani who said he was fleeing the Taliban. Kamran said he had heard that Europe was sending people back but still hoped that authorities would reconsider.
“If we can stay here, then we are totally safe,” he said. “But we don’t know if they’ll let us stay or tell us, ‘Go.’ ”
The United Nations has condemned the Turkey-E.U. deal, which states that all new migrants who arrived on Greek shores from March 20 onward would be sent back to Turkey. Human rights organizations have also criticized the plan, saying that it goes against basic refugee policies and that Turkey isn't safe for migrants.
On Lesbos and in Dikili, small groups of protesters held signs criticizing the deportations:
The main detention center in Lesbos is surrounded by barbed wire, preventing migrants from talking to the media.