WITH BOATS, PLANES, EU MIGRANT PLAN KICKS INTO HIGH GEAR
BRUSSELS The European Union’s plan to contain the refugee crisis took a major step on Monday with the return to Turkey of 202 migrants and refugees who had not applied for asylum in Greece, and Germany received its first Syrian refugees under the program.
Both were important steps in launching the EU-Turkey deal agreed on March 18 that aims to see tens of thousands of migrants returned to Turkey and make the deadly and dangerous Mediterranean crossing to Greece unworkable.
It has been described as a one-forone operation: for every Syrian among the returnees to Turkey, one Syrian refugee already in Turkey would be resettled in Europe. Under this voluntary part of the plan, up to 72,000 Syrians would be brought to Europe.
Monday morning, 32 Syrians were sent to Germany and 11 to Finland. A further planeload is due in the Netherlands on Tuesday.
Under the deal, the EU says Greece has moved all migrants who arrived before March 20 to the mainland from the islands. Greece has returned 147 “irregular” migrants among those arrivals. As of dawn on Monday, all “new irregular migrants” crossing from Turkey to Greece will be sent back.