As a part of a new EU plan aimed at reducing the number of refugees flowing into Europe, Greece has begun sending migrants back to Turkey.
Greek border agents put 135 migrants on a ferry back to Turkey, much to the anger of Turkish authorities.
Human rights groups have been highly critical of the plan, saying Turkey, which already hosts 2.7 million Syrian refugees, can not adequately care for the migrants.
“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,” Giorgos Kosmopoulos, head of Amnesty International in Greece, told the Associated Press.
“Turkey is not a safe third country for refugees. The EU and Greek authorities know this and have no excuse.”
The initial deportations were to consist of migrants who did not qualify for asylum. A total of 50,000 migrants and refugees are stranded in Greece following EU and Balkan border closures, but only those who arrived after March 20 will be detained for deportation, the Associated Press reported.
In addition to human rights concerns, some residents object to the deportations because providing for the migrants has been a boon to the local economy. On the nearby island of Chios, residents clashed with riot police in a protest against the deportations planned there.
More than one million people migrated to Europe last year, and there has been increasing opposition across to Europe to accepting more amid logistical and security concerns.
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