Greece in Countdown for EU-Turkey Migrant Returns

Greece in Countdown for EU-Turkey Migrant ReturnsGreece in Countdown for EU-Turkey Migrant Returns

Greek and EU authorities on Sunday fine-tuned an operation to expel to Turkey hundreds of migrants denied asylum in a landmark deal criticized by rights groups.

Officials declined to comment on the details of the operation, which is believed to begin early Monday from the Greek island of Lesbos where there are more than 3,300 refugees and migrants, AFP reported.

The operation could involve other Aegean islands with major refugee and migrant populations such as Chios, where agents of EU border agency Frontex were seen arriving on Sunday. Greek state news agency ANA has said 750 migrants would be sent back between Monday and Wednesday in the first wave of deportations. The Greek government has not denied the report.

ANA said the migrants would be sent back from Lesbos to the Turkish port of Dikili, adding that Frontex had chartered two Turkish leisure vessels for the operation.

Police sources on Lesbos on Sunday said there had been a flurry of last-minute asylum applications by refugees and migrants seeking to avoid expulsion.

Under the EU deal, all migrants who arrived in Greece after March 20 face being sent back to Turkey -- although the deal calls for each case to be examined individually.