migrants, izbjeglice, grčka.jpg
Photograph: EPA/GEORGI LICOVSKI

International aid organizations said Tuesday that they are reducing services on Greek islands because migrant reception centres have been turned into detention sites as part of the EU-Turkey migration deal.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and Doctors Without Borders had been supporting Greek authorities on islands where hot spots had been set up to register migrants and refugees and to help them after their sea journeys from Turkey.

"Under the new provisions, these sites have now become detention facilities," UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said Tuesday in Geneva, adding that such a policy runs counter to UNHCR principles.

While the UN Refugee Agency has suspended some of its activities at these centres, including transport services, agency officials will continue to monitor these sites to make sure that human rights standards are upheld, Fleming said.

Doctors Without Borders, who have been providing hygienic and medical services in the Moria hotspot on Lesbos, will suspend work there to protest the status of the migrants.

"Women, children, entire families are now not allowed to leave their barracks. If that isn't detention, what is it then?", a Doctors Without Borders spokesman told dpa.

An agreement between the European Union and Turkey to stem the flow of people across the eastern Mediterranean went into effect midnight Saturday.

Under the deal, up to 72,000 Syrian asylum seekers will be returned from Greece back to Turkey. In exchange, the EU has agreed to resettle up to 72,000 Syrian asylum seekers out of Turkey.

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