Greece grants asylum to 800 refugees on Lesbos despite migrant deal

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Greek authorities on Wednesday granted asylum to 800 refugees on Lesbos Island in spite of European Union (EU) deal with Turkey that people arriving from the country should be sent back.

A report in Athens said that under the agreement between EU and Ankara, migrants who arrived on the Greek islands after March 20, 2015 could have their asylum applications turned down.

It said that they were to be returned to Turkey on the basis that it had been deemed a safe country and that they should apply for asylum there.

It revealed that many asylum courts in Greece did not consider Turkey a safe country to which asylum seekers could be returned.

The report said that most of those allowed to remain were either sick, under the age of 18, mothers with children, or had relatives living in EU countries to the north.

It noted that before the EU-Turkey deal, no migrant passing through Greece sought shelter there as many aimed to reach wealthier EU countries such as Germany and Sweden.

“Around 8,000 people have applied for asylum on the Greek islands.

“Most of them reside on Lesbos, the main gateway for the thousands of people, who arrived from Turkey at the peak of the 2015-2016 migration crises,ā€™ā€™ it said.

It said that the rate of arrivals had been declining since the EU-Turkey deal, dropping to fewer than 50 per day in the first half of June, according to Greek figures.

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