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Greece Starts Sending Migrants Back to Turkey under EU Deal
Greece sent a first wave of migrants back to Turkey on Monday under an EU deal that faced heavy criticism from rights groups.
A small Turkish ferry, the Lesvos, and a larger catamaran, the Nezli Jale, left the island of Lesbos carrying 131 migrants, mainly from Pakistan and Bangladesh, said EU border agency Frontex, which is escorting them to Turkey.
"The procedure was very calm, everything was orderly," Frontex spokeswoman Ewa Moncure told reporters at Lesbos harbor.
Meanwhile, Moncure added that Turkish officials were present during the process.
In parallel, another Turkish catamaran is transporting migrants from the neighboring island of Chios. Officials have not yet confirmed how many people are on board.
In this context, Turkish Interior Minister Efkan Ala said his country was ready to receive 500 people Monday and that Greek authorities provided 400 names, although these numbers could change.
For their part, police sources on Lesbos, a Greek holiday island that served as the gateway for hundreds of thousands of people coming from Turkey, said there had been a flurry of last-minute asylum applications.
However, Greek officials were tight-lipped over how many migrants will cross the Aegean Sea back to Turkey.
In addition, state news agency ANA reported Sunday that some 250 migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and African nations would be sent back daily between Monday and Wednesday.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team
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