First wave of refugees who have crossed into the Greek island of Lesbos were returned to Turkey's Dikili Port on Monday, carried in a ferry named Nazlı Jale, under heavy security measures.
Officers from the Red Crescent in Turkey as well as Provincial Directorate for Migration, who have been preparing days ahead of the refugee swap supported the arrival procedures.
A vast number of Greek coast guard officers used masks against the risk of a protest and intervention by police officers in Dikili, while riot control vehicles with water cannons (TOMAs) were deployed to the arrival zone. Also, a white tarp was streched to surround the Dikili port in a bid to prevent any footages and images taken of refugees who arrived.
Security, health checks in Dikili
In four tents installed inside the port, refugees were accepted for security and health checks. Provincial Directorate for Migration took finger prints and held ID control for the refugees. Meanwhile, health teams including psychologists as well as ambulances were hold at disposal in the area.
İzmir Mayor Mustafa Toprak, Provincial Police Chief Celal Uzunkaya, and Head of Provincial Directorate for Migration Atilla Toros followed the developments at the Dikili port.
The refugees mostly include Afghan, Iraqi and Pakistani nationals, while no Syrians were seen in the first boat who arrived to the coast, said local reports.
Meanwhile, international journalists and broadcasters flocked to Dikili. Also, some protesters opened a banner reading “Stop deportations open border” but the police intervened and seized the banner. Locals watched the arrivals but did not react to the recent developments in their neighborhood so far, according to local reports.
The first bus to transport refugees from Dikili departed, bound to a center for refugees in Kırklareli province within the readmission procedures, at around 10.30 a.m.
For every migrant taken back from Greece, a Syrian refugee from Turkey
A small Turkish ferry and a larger catamaran that have left Lesbos arrived to Turkish coast of Dikili, carrying 131 migrants, mainly from Pakistan and Bangladesh according to EU border agency Frontex.
Turkish Interior Minister Efkan Ala has said his country was ready to receive 500 people on April 4 and that Greek authorities had provided 400 names, although these numbers could change.
Greek officials have been tight-lipped over how many migrants will cross the Aegean Sea back to Turkey. Under the same deal, for every migrant taken back from Greece, the EU will receive a Syrian refugee from Turkey.
Some 40 Syrian refugees will be sent to Germany from Turkey on April 4, German Ambassador to Ankara Martin Erdmann told Hürriyet Daily News on April 1. “A group of 40 persons will be sent from Istanbul to Hannover on April 4” Erdmann said.
Operation only “involves people who have not requested asylum”
Greek state news agency ANA reported April 3 that some 250 migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and African nations would be sent back daily between April 4 and April 6.
Yiorgos Kyritsis, spokesman for Greece’s refugee coordination unit, insisted the April 4 operation only “involves people who have not requested asylum.”
The EU signed the deal with Turkey in March, desperate to defuse the continent’s worst migration crisis since World War II, with more than a million people arriving from the Mideast and elsewhere last year.