Escorted by masked border guards in black military-style uniforms, these are some of the first migrants to be deported from Greece under a deal aimed at halting the influx into Europe.
As the measure was finally enforced yesterday, they were loaded on to boats at dawn and each assigned a border agency officer to enforce the journey from Lesbos.
Many of the guards wore surgical-style gloves and masks as they sat either side of the rows of migrants on board.
The protests took place as 138 refugees arrived in Turkey from the Moria Refugee Camp in Lesbos today, accompanies by heavy guard, some of whom wore masks
But more migrants are still arriving in Greece. A mother holds her child as migrants arrive on a Greek coast guard boat today, after being collected at sea by the authorities
Refugees are escorted by Turkish police as they arrive by ferry from the Lesvos (Lesbos), Greece, at the Dikili harbour in izmir escort, Turkey
But the total returned to Turkey yesterday – only 202 – was less than half the number the country was expecting.
It was also a fraction of the more than 5,000 who have been smuggled on to Greek islands since the EU deal was introduced last month, requiring all new arrivals to be sent back.
Local police said a slow processing system meant the 202 were the only migrants Greece could legally deport at present. The vast majority were Pakistanis who had not claimed asylum, and so would have been sent back even without the new arrangement.
Even as the boats left for Turkey, a string of people-smuggling vessels arrived on the Greek islands carrying 330 new arrivals.
Under the deal introduced on March 20, for every Syrian refugee returned to Turkey, another will be taken from the country and resettled in the EU, with numbers capped at 72,000. But only two Syrians went back yesterday, and they did so voluntarily.
Last night it remained unclear if more boats returning migrants to the Turkish port of Dikili would leave this week. Lesbos police later confirmed there would be no migrants deported to Turkey today. Yesterday riot police were deployed to the island’s harbour and an army Chinook buzzed overhead as the deportation began.
Protesters, many of them with British accents, held banners to demonstrate against deportations planned at the port of Mytilini, Lesbos
Migrants are escorted by Turkish police officers as they arrive in the Turkish coastal town of Dikili, Turkey, as part of a deal requiring Europe to settle one refugee for every one returned to Turkey in order to discourage the dangerous sea crossing
Ferries left the island of Lesbos in greecxe carrying about 200 migrants – less than half the number that were expected to be returned
Ewa Moncure, spokesman for EU border agency Frontex, said each migrant was assigned an escort officer for ‘safety and security’.
The guards accompanied their designated migrant by bus from the Moira holding camp to the dock, and then on board the boat where they remained by their side for the voyage to Turkey.
Miss Moncure added: ‘It was very calm. They were led on carrying their luggage. There were also additional teams of Greek police on board but there was no trouble.’ A total of 136 migrants were returned from Lesbos and 66 from the nearby island of Chios, according to Greek police.
These included 130 Pakistanis as well as Indians, Sri Lankans, Congolese, Afghanis, Somalis, Bangladeshis and Iranians.
‘These were the only people who we were legally able to return under the terms of the deal,’ a Lesbos police spokesman said. ‘It’s a very slow process. The other migrants are not processed yet.’
This was despite Turkish interior minister Efkan Ala saying at the weekend that it was prepared for 500 people to arrive yesterday and Greek media reporting that 750 were expected by Wednesday.
A Greek woman today had to be dragged to safety after collapsing because migrants have blocked the road to Macedonia as Greece tried to send migrants back to Turkey as part of a new EU deal
A migrant who collapsed is helped by a friend as other migrants and refugees block the highway near the Greek-Macedonian border near the village of Evzoni, Greece
Migrants and refugees shout slogans as they block the highway, protesting against the first wave of migrants being sent back to Turkey as part of a new EU deal
Another road block took place near another impromptu migrant camp at Idomeni, further south, in which protesters scuffled with police (pictured)
Migrants protested at Idomeni (pictured) as an enormous and complex logistical operation involving thousands of EU and other officials was launched today to ship migrants from Greece back to Turkey
Greek authorities said about 100 people today blocked the highway near the Evzones crossing, near the village of Evzoni, where a sprawling refugee camp of thousands developed in recent months
The area at Evzoni had been a pedestrian crossing for migrants and refugees until Macedonian authorities restricted the flow, and then closed it completely last month
The migrants looked furious as they chanted and shouted as it emerged some would be sent back to Turkey after making such a long and arduous journey into Europe
The Greek woman who collapsed as the roads were blocked was helped by police officers and given aid
Greece sent back a first wave of migrants to Turkey today under an EU deal to ease its migration crisis that has run into heavy criticism from rights groups
A handful of protesters – several with British accents – demonstrated against the deportations at Lesbos harbour, holding placards saying, ‘No borders, no nations’.
The EU deal with Turkey aimed to halt the route used by a million people to cross the Aegean Sea into the EU last year leading to scores of deaths. But since the deal was introduced 2,890 migrants have arrived on Lesbos, 1,766 on Chios and 479 on Samos, according to official Greek police figures.
Police sources on Lesbos said there had been a flurry of last-minute asylum applications since the deal came into force.
Boris Cheshirkov, the UN refugee agency spokesman on the island, said: ‘Over two thousand people have stated their wish to seek asylum and we need to see a credible process go ahead with the Greek asylum service.’
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has said the EU’s deal with Turkey lacks legal safeguards. Amnesty International called it ‘a historic blow to human rights’.
A small Turkish ferry and a larger catamaran left the island of Lesbos carrying 131 migrants, mainly from Pakistan and Bangladesh at dawn today, according to the EU border agency Frontex
Refugees are escorted by Turkish police as they arrive by ferry from the Greek island of Lesbos at the Dikili harbour in Izmir, Turkey
Turkey and the EU clinched the agreement in March, with the 28-nation bloc desperate to stem its worst migration crisis since the Second World War
Under the terms of the deal, izmir escort all ‘irregular migrants’ arriving since March 20 face being sent back, although the accord calls for each case to be examined individually
A Greek ferry carrying refugees back to Turkey from the Greek island of Lesbos arrives at Dikili Harbour in Izmir, Turkey
A Turkish catamaran taking the first group of migrants to be sent back to Turkey leave the port of Chios early on April 4, 2016
Meanwhile, in Greece, migrants blockaded two major highways near to the border, stopping traffic in both directions in protest to the deportations.
Greek authorities said about 100 people today blocked the highway near the Evzones crossing, near the village of Idomeni, where a sprawling refugee camp of thousands developed in recent months.
The area had been a pedestrian crossing for migrants and refugees until Macedonian authorities restricted the flow, and then closed it completely last month.
Meanwhile, hundreds of refugees and migrants were continuing to block trucks from using another section of the highway further south near the town of Polykastro, near another impromptu camp.
A Greek woman today had to be dragged to safety after collapsing near the blockade at Idomeni, where a number of migrants tussled with police.
State news agency ANA reported that some 250 migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and African nations would be sent back daily between Monday and Wednesday
Rights groups have criticised the deal, questioning whether it is legal and ethical. Migrants are escorted by Turkish police as they arrive by ferry from the Greek island of Lesbos
Police stand guard as migrants are escorted by Frontex officers into a ferry, in the port of Mytilene, Lesbos
The woman fell unconscious and was aided by policeman amid the dramatic scenes, in which hundreds of migrants held placards, blocking off two major highways linking to the border.
It comes as it emerged that a quiet Alpine border crossing is set to become Europe’s next migrant flashpoint after Austria promised to send troops to stop a surge of refugees crossing from Italy.
Police and riot officers were present, but ‘the procedure was very calm, everything was orderly,’ Frontex said.
This morning, a Turkish catamaran carried migrants from the neighbouring island of Chios. Officials have not yet confirmed how many people are on board.
A few dozen activists on Chios gathered near the embarkation site to protest against the deportations, chanting ‘Freedom’.
‘Stop the dirty deal’, ‘stop deportations’ and ‘wake up Europe’ were among the banners brandished in Lesbos against the disputed EU-Turkey agreement.
A couple of hours later, the first ferry docked in the Turkish coastal town of Dikili.
Red tents have been set up along the town’s harbourside to receive the arrivals.
Deported: Over 51,000 refugees and migrants seeking to reach northern Europe are stuck in Greece
A Frontex officer (R) takes a picture as migrants board a passenger boat to be returned to Turkey
A group of refugees walk to a bus after their arrival at the airport in Hanover, central Germany. The first Syrians arrived in Germany from Istanbul under a controversial EU-Turkey migrants pact
However, Mustafa Toprak, governor of Turkey’s Izmir region, said the migrants would only be staying briefly in Dikili and the resort of Cesme – a second reception point – before being moved on.
Turkey and the EU clinched the agreement in March, with the 28-nation bloc desperate to stem its worst migration crisis since the Second World War.
Under the terms of the deal, all ‘irregular migrants’ arriving since March 20 face being sent back, although the accord calls for each case to be examined individually.
For every Syrian refugee returned, another Syrian refugee will be resettled from Turkey to the EU, with numbers capped at 72,000.
In Monday’s first wave, Turkish Interior Minister Efkan Ala has said his country was ready to receive 500 people and that Greek authorities had provided 400 names, although these numbers could change.
Police sources on Lesbos, a Greek holiday island that has served as the gateway for hundreds of thousands of people coming from Turkey, said there had been a flurry of last-minute asylum applications.
‘We… have over two thousand people that have stated their wish to seek asylum and we need to see a credible process go ahead with the Greek asylum service for those that wish to express their protection concerns,’ said Boris Cheshirkov, the UN refugee agency spokesman on Lesbos.
Policemen escort a group of refugees after their arrival at the airport in Hanover, central Germany
Syrian refugees arrive at the Friedland reception centre in Goettingen, Germany. A group of 16 Syrian refugees arrived on a scheduled flight from Turkey under the agreement between the EU and Turkey
Greek officials have been tight-lipped over how many migrants will cross the Aegean Sea back to Turkey.
State news agency ANA reported that some 250 migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and African nations would be sent back daily between Monday and Wednesday.
Yiorgos Kyritsis, spokesman for Greece’s refugee coordination unit, insisted Monday’s operation only ‘involves people who have not requested asylum’.
Rights groups have criticised the deal, questioning whether it is legal and ethical.
‘We don’t know what is going to actually happen,’ senior UN migration official Peter Sutherland admitted this weekend.
‘But if there is any question of collective deportations without individuals being given the right to claim asylum, that is illegal.’
Amnesty International says Turkey is not a safe country for refugees – a charge Ankara rejects.
Protesters are pictured at the Italian village of Brenner on the border with Austria where they clashed with police at a demonstration against the closure of borders
Meanwhile Austrian police used pepper spray, pictured, against the demonstrators who want migrants to be allowed to move between countries
Two police officers were reportedly injured in the clashes, with several pictured here on the Austrian side of the border in riot gear
Let refugees in was the clear message left by the protesters who painted this near the border, pictured
Many migrants on the islands have complained of not being given sufficient time and access to carry out the asylum procedure.
Vassilis Balas, manager of the Suda refugee camp in Chios, said many migrants had only just started applying.
‘UNHCR (the UN refugee agency) is facilitating this process in the camps. It’s facilitating a process that actually should have been done by the police and other authorities in the hotspot,’ he said.
The operation to resettle Syrians to Europe under the one-for-one arrangement also starts Monday.
Germany expects to take in a first group of about 35 Syrians from Turkey on Monday, the German interior ministry said.
Several dozen others are expected to arrive in France, Finland and Portugal, according to German government sources.
Meanwhile The Times reports a quiet Alpine border crossing is set to become Europe’s next migrant flashpoint after Austria promised to send troops to stop a surge of refugees crossing from Italy.
Migrant sailings from Libya to Italy were expected to rise to more than 19,000 since the start of 2016, a 90 per cent increase year on year.
Others held up banners demanding the borders be opened and migrants be allowed to pass through
Men masking their faces with scarfs and hoods used paint rollers and sprayers to spell out the message
The Austrian defence minister said he was deploying soldiers to the Brenner Pass to stop migrants before they could head north. The closure of the pass aims to prevent migrants entering northern Europe through Italy, as the country usually allows migrants to board trains.
The EU has instead now told Italy it must identify all migrants as they land in the country, although this is expected to create a ‘bottleneck’ the size of the migrant camps in Calais.
The mobilisation could involve other Aegean islands with major refugee and migrant populations such as Chios and Lesbos.
Yesterday, protests were held across Europe as Greece began deporting migrants back to Turkey.
At the same time, Austria sent troops to the border to prevent a new flood entering northern Europe through Italy.
Some in Brenner held up a banner for #overthefortress, pictured, a campaign to support refugees
Scuffles broke out between officers and protesters with bottles thrown at police according to reports
Over the weekend, Austrian police clashed with protesters demonstrating against the closure of Europe’s borders to migrants, with police officers reported to be injured.
Hundreds of migrants protested in as the government prepared to send 500 back to Turkey in a bid to reduce the flow of new arrivals.
Many of the demonstrators held homemade placards with slogans appealing for help as they voiced their anger outside the Chios registration camp.
In Austria about 1,500 people took part in the demonstration at the Brenner border crossing between Austria and Italy.
Toward the end of a peaceful march dozens of protesters tried to break through a line of Austrian police in riot gear.
Police used batons and pepper spray to drive back the protesters, some of whom threw bottles and rocks at the officers.
The Austrian newspaper the Tiroler Tageszeitung reported on its website that two police officers were injured.
Other messages of support for migrants were dotted around the town, including this graffiti on an Austrian sign
One young Syrian refugee appeals to the European governments after fleeing his home in Syria
Stacks of life jackets and safety floats litter the ground on the Greek island of Levos
Police sources on Lesbos on Sunday said there had been a flurry of last-minute asylum applications by refugees and migrants seeking to avoid expulsion.
Under the EU deal, all ‘new irregular migrants’ who arrived in Greece after March 20 face being sent back to Turkey – although the deal calls for each case to be examined individually.
In addition, for every Syrian refugee being returned to Turkey from the Greek islands, another Syrian refugee will be will be resettled from Turkey to the EU, with numbers capped at 72,000.
The idea of this is to reduce the incentive for Syrian refugees to board dangerous smugglers’ boats to Europe, as they will have hope of being resettled directly from refugee camps in Turkey.
But on the Aegean islands themselves, many migrants have complained of not being given sufficient time and access to the asylum procedure.
Dozens of young and old migrants gathered together to voice their disapproval of the deportations
Police sources on Lesbos on Sunday said there had been a flurry of last-minute asylum applications by refugees and migrants seeking to avoid expulsion
Turkish Interior Minister Efkan Ala said his country had made preparations to receive 500 people on Monday, and that the Greeks had given the names of 400
Anas al-Bakhr, a Syrian engineer from Homs, said police marked his date of arrival on Chios as March 20 – the day the EU-Turkey migration deal nominally took effect – even though he arrived on the 19th.
‘They said the computers were broken that day’, Mr Anas said.
On the other side of the Aegean, work is underway on a centre to host those sent back to the Turkish tourist resort of Cesme.
Another is being created in Dikili, opposite Lesbos – the island that has handled the bulk of the influx of people fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East and elsewhere.
Turkish media reports say the Turkish Red Crescent is also preparing to open a refugee camp with capacity for 5,000 people further inland in Manisa.
The EU-Turkey deal is the latest attempt to stem the number of people in search of a new life in Europe. More than a million migrants entered last year, and over 150,000 people have crossed the Aegean Sea to Greece in 2016.
Refugees and migrants gather for a demonstration at a makeshift camp in Idomeni
Under the EU deal, all ‘new irregular migrants’ who arrived in Greece after March 20 face being sent back to Turkey – although the deal calls for each case to be examined individually
Migrants carry their life possessions in a single bag as tehy are escorted by anti-riot police inside the Moria migrant camp in Mytilene
Germany expects to take in a first group of about 35 Syrian asylum seekers from Turkey this week, the German interior ministry said on Sunday.
Several dozen Syrians are also expected to arrive in France, Finland and Portugal, according to German government sources.
The deal has faced strong opposition from rights groups.
Amnesty International has accused Turkey of illegally forcing groups of some 100 Syrians to return every day, saying the alleged expulsions showed ‘fatal flaws’ in the migrant deal agreed with the EU.
Turkey rejects the charge, insisting it still adopts the open-door policy that for the last few years has allowed any Syrian fleeing civil war back home to seek refuge.
There are over 52,000 refugees and migrants currently in Greece, according to official figures.
The operation to resettle Syrians to Europe under the one-for-one arrangement also starts tomorrow
Children stand behind a fence inside the Moria migrant camp transformed from a police-run detention facility
With most facilities already full, authorities are trying to create space for an additional 30,000 people in new camps.
Adding to the urgency, sporadic violence has broken out between ethnic migrant groups in the overcrowded camps.
But many migrants are reluctant to move to organised centres, fearing that they will not be allowed to leave.
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, quoted by the Tagesspiegel am Sonntag weekly, voiced optimism today that the refugee influx had peaked.
But, he suggested, agreements with countries in North Africa may be needed to prevent mass arrivals in future.