16:14 GMT26 February 2021
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    Major Migrant Crisis in Europe (1819)
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    The return of refugees and migrants from Greece to Turkey began at dawn in what's been described as a "dark day" for Europe.

    Boats carrying failed asylum seekers from Greek islands to Dikili have set sail across the Aegean Sea on the "first day of a very difficult time for refugee rights," following a "dangerous" deal between the European Union and Turkey.

    "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 (AI) in Greece told AP.

    More than 130 migrants have been made to leave the Greek island of Lesbos and over 60 have left Chios, an island which recently descended into chaos after migrants violently demonstrated against the pending deportation.

    "All of the migrants returned are from Pakistan except for two migrants from Syria who returned voluntarily," Giogos Kyritsis, spokesman for the Greek government's refugee crisis committee, told state television.

    For each returned migrant from Greece to Turkey, an EU member state will accept one Syrian refugee. The one-for-one refugee swap began on Monday 4 April.

    Even before the deal was struck, members of the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee said that, "Outsourcing the refugee crisis to Turkey is not a credible long-term solution to the problem."

    On the day the refugee deal became a reality Giorgos Kosmopoulos of AI said:

    "Turkey is not a safe third country for refugees. The EU and Greek authorities know this and have no excuse." 

    Human rights groups say the mass deportations breach international law, and signals a dark period in Europe's history.

    Major Migrant Crisis in Europe (1819)


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    Turkey Sends Thousands of Refugees to Die or be Enslaved in Syria
    Amnesty Exposes 'Open Secret' of Fatal Flaws in EU-Turkey Migrant Deal
    Human Rights Groups Enraged as Turkey Sends Syrian Refugees Packing
    migrant crisis, deal, human rights, refugees, Amnesty International, European Union, Europe, Turkey
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