Getty Images 519076238 (1)

Who are the migrants being sent back from Greece to Turkey?

4 April Apr 2016 1443 04 April 2016
  • ...

Today marks the first day of deportations of migrants from Greece back to Turkey under the controversial EU-Turkey deal, agreed upon in Brussels last month. With most of the deported migrants coming from Pakistan and Bangladesh, Vita International takes a closer look at Pakistani migration flows.

Today at sunrise, 200 migrants were sent back from the Greek islands of Lesbos and Chios back to Turkey on small ferries, in the first wave of deportations to occur under the EU-Turkey deal, which aims to stem the flows of irregular migration into Europe.

Most of the migrants sailing back across the Aegean Sea to the small Turkish port of Dikili today were Pakistani and Bangladeshi, as well as some Sri Lankans and Moroccans, and 66 Afghanis. According to reports, none had applied for asylum in Europe, and there were no Syrians amongst them.

Turkish EU Affairs Minister, Volkan Bozkır, has stated that the migrants coming from Greece will be sent to the southern Turkish province of Osmaniye.

There were protests by human rights activists at the sites of deportation, with many holding signs saying "Stop the dirty deal". However, there was no resistance by the migrants themselves, who cooperated peacefully with Frontex border guards.

The Athens News Agency has stated that some 250 migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and several African countries will be sent back every day between now and Wednesday.

Pakistani migration flows

According to the Budapest Process Pakistan Migration Country Report "Poverty is predominantly a rural phenomenon and widespread in Pakistan. Due to the fact that approximately two thirds of its population lives in rural areas, Pakistan is ranked among the 43 high risk countries out of 107 developing countries that are highly exposed to poverty."

40% of the urban population is estimated to be living in slum areas suffering from increasing poverty.

In 2010, it was was estimated that Pakistani emigrants number 4,677,000, amounting to 2.5% of the total population of Pakistan.

Pakistan-EU relations

Back in November 2015, tensions flared between the EU and Islamabad, when 50 migrants were deported from Greece back to Pakistan. At the time, the Pakistani interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan stated that the “Pakistani laws have been violated, which absolutely cannot be allowed,” and there was a row about the treatment of Pakistanis by European states struggling with a migrant crisis.

Following the row, the EU and Pakistan agreed on deportation terms, which included the EU giving Pakistani authorities 15 days advance notice on deportees being sent back to the country.

Related news