Migrants coming from Turkey risked their lives to get to Greece. Now some are going back to Turkey against their will. The migrants were trying to get to Europe to begin new lives.
The return program is beginning. More than 200 people boarded three boats on the Greek islands of Lesbos and Chios. The vessels made the short trip across the Aegean Sea to Turkey. This is the stretch of ocean where hundreds of migrants drowned trying to reach Europe.
The three boats arrived in the Turkish port. At the same time dozens of Syrian refugees got on planes bound for Germany and Finland. This is part of the exchange agreed to by the European Union (EU). For every migrant returned to Turkey, one will go to Europe.
The EU says it will accept up to 720,000 Syrian refugees now residing in Turkey.
Most of those sent back to Turkey were from South Asia and Africa. They could not prove that they need political asylum. The ones going to Europe were able to prove their need for political asylum.
The EU seems to have reached one goal. Fewer migrants are trying to get from Turkey to Greece.
There is outrage among human rights groups and among migrants stranded in Greece. Riots and clashes with police are also taking place at refugee camps in Europe.
The human rights groups are saying that the Syrian refugees are not safe in Turkey. They say Turkey is returning some to Syria against their will. Turkey denies this.
Non-Syrian migrants returned to Turkey will have to go back to the countries from which they came. Syrians will go to camps in Turkey or other “suitable places.”
Europe is doing all it can to stop the flow of migrants.
Billions of euros are going to Turkey to help them deal with migrants. It is likely this program will not solve the problem. People will continue to try to get to Europe. The Middle East will continue to be a place of danger for millions.
Source: The Wall Street Journal April 5, 2016