Greece detained hundreds of refugees landing on its islands in the wake of a deal between Ankara and the European Union to send a large chunk of asylum-seekers entering Europe back to Turkey.
Since the EU-Turkey agreement went into effect on Sunday, more than 1600 refugees arriving on Greek territories have been led to five Aegean islands, where they would be held in detention while their application is under review, officials said Monday.
Under the pact, Ankara is obliged to take back all illegal refugees deported from Greece while the EU will accept thousands of Syrian asylum seekers directly from Turkey.
The agreement requires Turkey to start accepting the illegal refugees who were crossing into Greece on March 20 and the relocation of refugees from Turkey into the EU would occur as of April 4.
However, the deal has already hit setbacks on the island of Lesbos, the main arrival point for large numbers of refugees as local officials there are struggling to adapt to the new system while awaiting hundreds of EU reinforcements.
Meanwhile, Greek authorities stressed that it will take time to start sending refugees back as a staff of thousands is needed to handle the process.
Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU's migration commissioner, said the implementation of the accord with Turkey "puts great pressure on our country" but Athens is willing to take on the task.
Turkey is already hosting 3 million Syrian refugees who have fled the years-long war waged by foreign-backed militants.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team