April 8, 2016
Greece has expelled a second group of refugees from its Lesbos island to Turkey as part of the controversial EU-Turkey refugee deal.
A Turkish ferry departed from Lesbos on Friday with 45 refugees, who were all reportedly from Pakistan. It was the second batch of refugees deported under the deal.
A group of activists gathered at the port in protest at returning refugees to Turkey, shouting, “Freedom for the refugees,” “Stop deportations” and “EU shame on you.”
Three of the protesters were arrested after they tried to cling onto the ferry’s anchor to stop it from departing.
Some 80 other refugees will leave Lesbos later on Friday. Greek officials said those returned have not requested asylum in Greece.
Some 202 refugees were expelled from Lesbos and Chios islands to Turkey’s coastal town of Dikili on Monday. Greece will now delay the expulsion for two weeks to allow officials in Turkey to examine the asylum demands.
Under the EU-Turkey agreement, Ankara agreed to take back all the asylum seekers and refugees — including the Syrians – who had used its territory to illegally reach Greece in return for a number of commitments from the EU.
One such commitment is that the EU will take in one Syrian refugee directly from Turkish refugee camps in return for every Syrian the bloc returns to Turkey, with a cap at 72,000 asylum-seekers. For non-Syrians, the route to Europe is entirely cut off.
The move has sparked a number of protests at refugee camps.
On Thursday, some 150 refugees broke out of a camp in Samos Island. They were later forced to return to the facility. A similar incident took place on the island of Chios last week.
Amnesty International criticized the deal and said Turkey is not safe for refugees at the moment and there are several flaws on the Greek side.
The rights group said refugees held in Lesbos and Chios have “no access to legal aid, limited access to services and support, and hardly any information about their current status or possible fate.”
The UN says some people in the first batch of refugees returned from Greece to Turkey may have been dispatched mistakenly.
Australia tough on terror convicts
Also on Friday, Canberra announced that dual nationals convicted of terrorism would be stripped of their Australian nationality.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said people who were members of banned organizations, involved in terror activities or convicted of terror-related crimes could lose their Australian citizenship.
“There is a very significant penalty to pay if people are involved in terrorist activities and they’re a dual national,” Dutton said.
The country has been on alert for extremist attacks. Some 200 domestic threats were recorded in the country, said the Australian minister, adding that 100 citizens have also traveled to Syria to join the ranks of Takfiri terror groups.
Dutton added that the country’s Security Intelligence Organization has been focusing on 400 “high priority investigations” that could be potential security threats.
Last December, the Australian Senate passed the legislation to take such action against terror suspects who hold dual citizenship.
Opposing legislators have, however, said the laws would leave suspects roam freely around the globe, while they could be kept in Australian prisons.
They have also asserted that such people could pose threats to Australian travelers or expatriates overseas.