Sad news for refugees in Greece.
Deportation of refugees from Greece to Turkey begins today under the EU deal. According to this agreement people who apply for asylum in Greece and have their applications refused, will be returned to Turkey. Today 200 migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan were sent back to Turkey.
One reason behind this deal is to stop human trafficking across the Aegean and The Mediterranean and therefore to stop death toll in the most deadliest sea crossings. It has been said that so far this year, the death toll has climbed at an even faster rate than over the same period in 2015. However, following the belated decision by Europe’s leaders in late April to reinstate an effective search and rescue mission, this has for the time being been stemmed.
Those migrants who are attempting this perilous journey to Europe mainly come from Eritrea, Afghanistan, Somalia and Nigeria. But by far the single largest number by nationality is Syrian.
The EU is paying Turkey more than £4 billion over the next three years to contain 2.5 million refugees. However the deal to send people back across the Aegean Sea has been fiercely criticised by rights groups on ethical grounds. The Spectator leading article reiterates that ” the problem, is that Turkey is being offered more than money. The EU, in its desperation, says that within a few months it will offer Turkey’s 77 million citizens the ability to travel to any of its 28 member states without the need for a visa. Worse, it will fast-track Turkey’s application to become a full member of the EU — and turn a blind eye to the human rights abuses of Recep Erdogan’s regime. Not that he wants to join the EU: he just wants to show his domestic audience that can behave how he likes, lock up who he likes, and have the EU eating out of his hand.”
This article was originally featured on Fereshteh's blog. You can see the original article here.
The Dublin Law - The government wants to maintain the right to deport asylum-seekers to the first EU country they arrive in
The Dublin Law is being challenged in court in several cases where lawyers are battling against the government's use of the legislation.
The Dublin Law means that the UK can deport asylum-seekers and refugees back to the first EU country that they enter, with issues such as individuals facing continued persecution in the first EU country of entry being put forward.
The Guardian reported how one Syrian refugee arrived in the UK to join his family, but was threatened with deportation to Italy when the police found that he had already been fingerprinted and processed there.
In the article by Harriet Grant, the Syrian national (who is given the alias Ahmad) describes his experience of brutality at the hands of Italian police in Rome as well as his violent forced deportation back to Italy on the orders of the Home Office; "They tied me up with straps and four men took me on to the plane crying and screaming, including a doctor because I said I was going to kill myself.”
“I pleaded with them to send me back to Syria, I told them I would rather die than go back to Italy,” he said. “In Rome, the police held me down and beat me to get my fingerprints and I slept on the street. But they say this is the European law, you must go to Italy.”
Campaigners against the Dublin Law insist that the regulation puts pressure on services in these countries that are already spread very thin, but also endangers vulnerable people and separates families already struggling to reunite.
The Home Office as usual, responded with; “The UK has a proud history of offering protection to those who need it,” the spokesperson said. “Each case is considered on its individual merits and in line with the rules, but we will not shoulder the burden of asylum claims which should rightly be processed by other countries.” They denied that they send any individual back to unsafe countries where they are in danger of persecution.
Maurice Wren of Asylum Aid insisted; “It’s wholly inappropriate that at a time when the rest of the EU is working together to relocate arrivals away from the countries on Europe’s borders whose asylum systems appear to be dysfunctional, Britain is trying to send asylum seekers back there.”
Is the UK not taking on it's fair share of refugees?
Since the refugee crisis escalated with continued conflict in the Middle East and the spread of persecution and poverty in countries such as Eritrea, European countries have been floundering with how to cope with the new arrivals, with many other EU countries pointing out that the UK has not taken on it's fair share of refugees, and that countries such as Greece, Italy and Germany are struggling to maintain their services, and have seen the rise in power and popularity of far-right groups and calls to turn back the boats and crude 'deterrents' such as prosecuting tourists and coastal denizens who attempt to help rescue refugees arriving by boat from North Africa.
Italy has been the main country that has received requests to return refugees and asylum-seekers. The Guardian reported that "last year, the UK made just over 2,000 requests to transfer asylum seekers to another EU country under the Dublin regulations, although only about a quarter of those requests ended in a removal within that time period." 
Angelino Alfano, Italy's Internal Affairs Minister insisted that the Dublin Law "does not reflect reality and called the requirement of asking for asylum in migrants’ country of entrance a “complete absurdity.”
"Alfano said that both Italy and Greece can no longer pay the price for the “constant flow” of refugeess across Europe. If the situation is not changed, Europe will face even greater problems"
“I think that two countries cannot pay the total bill alone. By saying it I mean neither Italy nor Greece can pay for the constant flow of immigrants, who run from atrocities in their home countries. If it continues this way, it will be an end of Europe" 
News circulated this week that the EU is writing up legislation meaning that people who help to rescue drowning refugees will face prosecution, criminalising them as smugglers.
The news comes from Statewatch, who say that interior EU ministers were drawing up the plans to deter the flow of refugees trying to make the life threatening journey across the Mediterranean, many aiming to reach the shores of Greek Islands such as Lesvos, and southern Italy.
The Director of Positive Action in Housing, the refugee homelessness charity, Robina Qureshi, said in response in a recent statement: “If the EU plans to criminalise charities and volunteers who help refugees arriving on Lesvos or any of the Greek islands, does this mean that are also going to criminalise and arrest the UNHCR, OXFAM, Doctors of the World, Doctors of the World, International Rescue, the Spanish Lifeguards, the Greek Lifeguards, Ai Weiwei, Eric Kempson, Philippa Kempson, Ken Loach, Susan Sarandon, Jeremy Corbyn, Trade unions, politicians, old age pensioners, students and medics as well? So they are going to let refugees drown and imprison the world’s humanitarians? And how will the history books record it. The fact is we have a growing movement of charities and volunteers from across the world who are in danger of being criminalised for doing the right thing and resisting the EU's de facto genocide of refugees. We are making a significant difference on the island by supplying funds for lifeguards, medical facilities and shelter, as well as doctors, volunteers, clothing and medical supplies. We need voices from across the world to speak out and challenge the EU’s secret plans. We are not going to stop helping.” 
Other public figures and commentators responded to the news with outrage at the notion of criminalising aid workers, volunteers and well-meaning public trying to assist refugees who have just overcome a harrowing, incredibly dangerous journey from the shores of North Africa, many calling for opposition to the plans and urging European citizens to continue to help vulnerable people who's lives are at risk.