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Deportations to Turkey “blocked” due to “rain” of asylum applications on Greek islands

Refugees and migrants on the Greek islands of Lesvos and Chios had the EU and  Frontex officials to change their re-admissions schedule. They “stormed’ the asylum offices and started to submit “asylum applications” en mass, with the effect that the lists with the names of those to be deported had to be cancelled. On the island of Chios alone, 470 asylum applications are awaiting to be examined. On the other hand, 100 ‘migrants’ who were supposed to be taken back today, allegedly went “missing.” As refugees and migrants have ‘escaped’ the “detention center” of Chios on Sunday, it is almost impossible for authorities to locate them.

Therefore, no send backs to Turkey were possible today, Tuesday, neither from Lesvos nor from Chios. Despite the schedule prepared by EU technocrats, despite that they had planned to deport 250 people to Turkey today and another 250 tomorrow. But this is the problem with technocrats: they prepare their plans without taking into consideration the Human Factor.

On Monday, the first day of EU Turkey Deal implementation, 202 people were send back to Turkey.

The start of EU Turkey Deal implementation had refugees and migrants to give up hope that they may reach Europe and rush to submit requests for asylum. A total of more than 2,000 asylum requests have been reportedly submitted since last weekend, since it became clear, that deportations back to Turkey would start on Monday, April 4th.

Between March 20th and April 1st, the interest in asylum applications was rather minimal.

The increase of asylum applications caused the Greek Asylum Mechanism to ‘paralyze’ as only 200 out of the 2,300 EU asylum experts have arrived in Greece. On Chios, there are reportedly only 5 Greek asylum officials and they were obviously overwhelmed.

EU-Greek authorities have a period of 14 days to examine the applications. Asylum seekers  get a ‘mercy time’ and are protected form deportation. If their application is rejected, they have the right to appeal. And probably wait in Greece for another 14 days – provided all procedure goes by the Book of the EU Turkey Deal.

Although the EU Turkey Deal was sealed with the aim to scare human smugglers, refugees and migrants, another 225 people arrived in the last 24 hours on the islands of Lesvos, Samos and Megisti.

The official total number of refugees and migrants in Greece is given today as: 52,352 people – At least 11,280 are inside the Idomeni camp.

Meanwhile, the United Nation Agency for Refugees claims that 13 out of the 202 people deported to Turkey on Monday “may not have had chance to claim for asylum.”

Police “forgot” to process the asylum claims of 13 of the 202 asylum seekers sent back to Turkey on Monday, the first day the deal was put into practice, according to Vincent Cochetel, director of UNHCR’s Europe bureau. The 13 people were Afghans.

PS Reminder: the send-backs apply for refugees and migrants who have arrived on Greece’s islands after March 20th 2016.

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