Nearly 80 Syrian refugees sent to new homes in EU
ISTANBULTurkey has sent around 80 Syrian refugees to various countries of the European Union as part of a migrant agreement between the EU and Turkey that was signed to curb the refugee flow to the bloc.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said 78 Syrian refugees had been sent to Europe to their new homes.
“We have sent 78 Syrian brothers of ours, who were living in camps, to Germany and Europe,” Davutoğlu said April 5 during an address to his party’s parliamentary group. “Legal immigration will be supported instead of illegal immigration.”
Some 32 Syrians were sent to Germany as 11 Syrians went to Finland on April, while 31 Syrians were sent to the Netherlands on April 5, according to figures.
Officials from the Turkey office of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) told the Hürriyet Daily News on April 5 that they had also received requests from EU member countries such as Italy, Portugal, Sweden and Lithuania. The officials, noted, however, that the process regarding the requests was still underway.
Turkish officials have already said 202 refugees from nine different countries – just two of whom are Syrian nationals – arrived in Turkey on April 4 in the first transfer of migrants from Greece to Turkey.
Meanwhile, a Turkish government official told Reuters that Turkey was ready to take another 200 migrants deported from the Greek islands on April 6.
“We will take in people through Dikili [a coastal town in Turkey where the first batch of migrants were brought from Greece on April 4] again tomorrow. We will take in around 200 irregular migrants,” the official said, declining to be identified because the plans had not yet been made public.
Asylum applications on rise in Greece
On the other side of the Aegean, a rush to claim asylum hampered a second wave of migrant expulsions from Greece.
Yiorgos Kyritsis, the spokesman for the Greek government panel coordinating the migration crisis, said no operations had been planned for April 5.
They will resume “when there is a sufficient number” of migrants, Kyritsis said.
The procedure has been slowed “by an increase in asylum requests” in the last few days by migrants on Chios and Lesbos, the Greek Aegean islands in the front line of the migratory wave, Kyritsis said.
Out of around 6,000 migrants who arrived on the islands after a deadline of March 20, more than 2,300 had applied for asylum, he said.
13 migrants not given chance for asylum: UNHCR
The UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, said April 5 that some of the first people to be deported from Greece under the terms of the EU-Turkey migration deal may not have been given the chance to claim asylum.
Police “forgot” to process the asylum claims of 13, from Afghanistan and Congo, of the 202 asylum seekers sent back to Turkey on April 4, the first day the deal was put into practice, according to Vincent Cochetel, director of UNHCR’s Europe bureau.
If proved, the claims would undermine the EU’s argument that the deportation deal, which could lead to the expulsion of almost all asylum seekers who arrived in Greece after March 20, is in line with international law. The EU has previously promised that people “who apply for asylum in Greece will have their applications treated on a case-by-case basis” and that “there will be no blanket and no automatic returns of asylum seekers.”
Several dozen migrants being detained at a holding camp on the Greek island of Lesbos protested behind the barbed wire fence of the compound on April 5, shouting “We want freedom!”
They were among thousands of refugees and migrants who have arrived on Lesbos on or since March 20 from Turkey and who are being held under the new EU agreement with Ankara until their asylum requests are processed and they are accepted or sent back.
Davutoğlu said German Chancellor Angela Merkel would next week inaugurate a new center for Syrian refugees in the southeastern Turkish province of Kilis built with EU funds.
“We are going to inaugurate a school and a hospital built in Kilis thanks to EU financing with European leaders led by Mrs. Merkel,” said Davutoğlu without specifying which other leaders would accompany Merkel for the April 16 ceremony in Kilis.