ATHENS, Greece — Under heavy security, authorities on the Greek islands of Lesbos and Chios deported 202 migrants and refugees on boats bound for Turkey — the first to be sent back as part of a controversial European Union plan to limit the amount of migration to Europe.
The operation that started at dawn, as migrants were escorted onto small ferries by officers from the EU border protection agency, Frontex, to nearby ports on the Turkish coast, under the program which has been strongly criticized by human rights groups.
“All of the migrants returned are from Pakistan except for two migrants from Syria who returned voluntarily,” Giorgos Kyritsis, a spokesman for a government refugee crisis committee, told state TV.
“There is no timetable for returns. Examining (asylum) applications will take some time.”
About 4,000 migrants and refugees are being detained on Greek islands since the agreement came into effect March 20.