On April 4, the Greek Police, along with the EU border agency Frontex, began the process of deporting almost all migrants and refugees from Greece to Turkey, thus removing them from the European Union.
The practicability of removing all migrants and refugees from Greece en masse has been questioned, as well as the lacking Greek infrastructure that may not be able to cope with the removal of thousands of refugees. Moreover, Greece has called for a twenty-fold increase in the number of asylum officials, as resources are stretched to breaking point as European leaders attempt to deal with the consequences of the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II.
Greece’s leftist-led government’s migration spokesman, Giorgos Kyritsis, told the Observer, “We are expecting violence. People in despair tend to be violent. The whole philosophy of the deal is to deter human trafficking [into Europe] from the Turkish coast, but it is going to be difficult and we are trying to use a soft approach. These are people have fled war. They are not criminals.”
Kyritsis’ statements come as Peter Sutherland, the UN secretary general’s special representative for international migration and development, has revealed that the EU’s plans to send refugees who are fleeing the on-going civil war in Syria back to Turkey without considering their asylum requests could be illegal, as it would break international law.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, Sutherland outlined that, “First of all, collective deportations without having regard to the individual rights of those who claim to be refugees are illegal”, before adding, “Secondly, their rights have to be absolutely protected where they are deported to, in other words Turkey. There has to be adequate assurances they can’t be sent back from Turkey to Syria, for example if they are Syrian refugees, or Afghanistan or wherever.”
Violence has continued among the migrant and refugee communities in Greece following the implementation of the divisive plan. A group of people on the Greek island of Chios ripped down a razor wire fence that was detaining them and escaped beyond the island.