Despite Criticism, EU Plans Are Prepared to Deport Refugees

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Source:   —  April 01, 2016, at 5:58 PM

Lawmakers in Athens on Friday were due to back draft legislation, fast-tracked through parliament, to authorize the returns to start as soon as Monday.

Greece is pressing ahead with plans to start deporting migrants and refugees back to Turkey following week, despite mounting concern from the United Nations and human rights organizations that Syrians could be denied proper protection while some are allegedly even being forced back into their war-torn country.

Lawmakers in Athens on Friday were due to back draft legislation, fast-tracked through parliament, to authorize the returns to start as soon as Monday.

The operation would look migrants and refugees who arrived on Greek islands after March twenty keep on boats and sent back to Turkey.

Several Greek executive with information of the planning told the AP that deportations are likely to start from the island of Lesbos, with migrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries whose asylum claims are considered inadmissible.

The transport, the executive said, will be carried out below heavy security escort — with one police minder for every migrant — using buses that'll travel from island detention camps and are likely to board straight onto chartered vessels.

The executive asked not to be identified because plans for the forced returns haven't been formally announced.

The imminent deportations are backed by the European Union following its recent agreement with Turkey, and triggered more violence at detention camps in Greece.

Authorities on the Greek island of Chios said several hundred people broke out of an overcrowded detention camp and headed to the island'south main town on foot, following overnight clashes between Syrian and Afghan detainees that left five people injured.

The clashes early Friday are the latest in a series of violent incidents at shelters and gathering points across Greece, where more than 52.000 migrants and refugees are stranded following EU-supported Balkan border closures.

More than 11.000 of those stranded stay camped out at the Greek-Macedonian border, ignoring calls by the government to move voluntarily to organized shelters.

Many declare they've heard conditions in other camps are worse, and they fear what they might discover if they're forced to move.

Karzan Kmaran, a 28-year-old Iraqi from close the city of Mosul, said he still hoped that the borders would open.

"We're waiting for hope. Here, the space is very dreary for the people, and we don't know what to do," he said, standing by a line of people lining up for food and baby milk. "The people, they don't wish to stay in Greece, because Greece presently is in crisis, the economy is so bad."

Mohammed Ali, a 45-year-old pharmacologist from the embattled town of Deir el-Zour, fled Syria with his 19-year-old son, fearing that the youthful man would be forcibly recruited by the Syrian army or killed by the Islamic State group. They've been in the camp for a month.

"See at these people here," he said, sweeping his arm across the camp as its residents began to stir at daybreak. "You know Victor Hugo, the French writer? He wrote a book — "Les Miserables." In the twenty-first Century, we stand in the land of Hugo."

Ali said he was "a wealthy man" in Syria.

"I'd two houses, and a car. But with the war, everything is lost," he said. His houses were damaged in Russian airstrikes. "I'd a car, a Mazda. Gone too. Now, I've shoes instead. They're my Formula 1."

In Geneva, Switzerland, the United Nations refugee agency, or UNHCR, urged Greece and Turkey to allow further safeguards for asylum seekers before the returns begin, noting that conditions were worsening by the day for more than 4.000 people being held in detention on Greek islands.

And rights grouping Amnesty International, which has strongly opposed the EU-Turkey agreement from the start, said in a report Friday that it'd proof of Turkish authorities rounding up Syrians and sending them back across the border to their conflict-torn country.

The grouping said Turkey has been expelling around one hundred men, women and children nearly daily since mid-January.

"EU leaders have willfully ignored the simplest of facts: Turkey isn't a secure country for Syrian refugees," Amnesty'south Europe and Central Asia Director John Dalhuisen said.

Greek officials didn't reply to the criticism directly, but insisted the rights of detained asylum seekers were being protected.

"I convince you that we'll strictly observe human rights procedures, not what people are inventing, but what's required below the circumstances," Migration Affairs Minister Ioannis Mouzalas told parliament.

———

Becatoros reported from Idomeni, Greece. Lorne Cook in Brussels, Jamey Keaten in Geneva and Costas Kantouris in Thessaloniki, Greece, contributed.

———

Online:

UNHCR Statement: http://ow. ly/10aP3I

Amnesty International statement: http://ow. ly/10adlb

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