Two boats carrying 131 refugees left from Lesbos, Greece, to Turkey on Monday morning, as part of a plan by the European Union to curb the number of asylum-seekers entering the continent. The region is dealing with the worst refugee crisis since World War II amid the civil war in Syria and expansion of terror outfits like the Islamic State. The EU deal involves sending refugees back across the Aegean Sea to Turkey, which borders Syria. The Guardian reported that refugees might also be sent back from other European islands that have had a large number of asylum-seekers enter. Several countries recently closed their borders to refugees, while some others introduced a cap on the number of people they will take in.
The report said the EU plan is applicable to “irregular migrants” arriving there after March 20, and that each refugee’s case will be examined individually. The plan was heavily criticised by rights groups, and the United Nations said deporting refugees without considering asylum applications could be illegal by international laws.
The Guardian reported that Peter Sutherland, the UN secretary general’s special representative for international migration and development, said, “First of all, collective deportations without having regard to the individual rights of those who claim to be refugees are illegal… Secondly, their rights have to be absolutely protected where they are deported to, in other words Turkey.”
Turkish Interior Minister Efkan Ala said his country can take up to 500 refugees on Monday, and Greek authorities have reportedly provided 400 names of refugees, though reports said the numbers could change.