Athens votes on asylum bill set to give EU-Turkey deal the go-ahead

Greek parliament was Friday set to vote on a bill that prepares its asylum laws for the planned return of thousands of asylum seekers to Turkey, under a deal struck between the European Union and Ankara.

According to the agreement, any migrants who reach the Greek islands from Turkey from March 20 onwards and do not apply for asylum, or fail to qualify, will be returned to Turkey, which is a major transit country for people trying to reach Europe.

The migration deal has drawn sharp criticism from human rights organizations, who have argued that it is unlawful and inhumane.

"In their desperation to seal their borders, EU leaders have wilfully ignored the simplest of facts: Turkey is not a safe country for Syrian refugees and is getting less safe by the day," said Amnesty's John Dalhuisen.

The EU-Turkey deal "can only be implemented with the hardest of hearts and a blithe disregard for international law," he added.

Meanwhile Greek harbour police were Friday preparing to move migrants in Athens' Piraeus port to regulated camps in Greece. Around 5,300 people remain at the port's crowded waiting areas.

Around 700 Afghans are to be brought to official camps in buses on Friday, Greek television network Skai reported.

Migrants are currently sleeping in waiting halls normally used by ferry passengers and in more than 1,000 camping tents put up in the docks. There have been reports of tussles between different ethnic groups as tensions rise.

Many of the migrants are reluctant to relocate to state-run camps, fearing they will be stranded there in poor conditions.

Last update: Fri, 24/06/2016 - 08:49
Author: 

More from Europe

French presidential hopeful to meet Merkel, outline plans for Europe

French conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon is set to meet German Chancellor Merkel in Berlin on...

Left-winger and former premier top French primary

Benoit Hamon and Manuel Valls were out in front in France's nationwide primary on Sunday to choose who will be the...

Romanian president joins thousands in anti-government rally

Thousands of Romanians were joined by President Klaus Iohannis in a street protest in Bucharest on Sunday against...

Suspected accomplice detained in Germany in foiled Vienna attack

A 21-year-old man and his wife have been arrested in their home in the western German city of Neuss on suspicion of...

May vows to press Trump on "unacceptable" remarks in Friday meeting

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Sunday vowed to confront US President Donald Trump about any "unacceptable"...