Protesters rally against migrants in Turkey, Greece

Villagers near a Greek migrant camp have called on their government to evacuate migrants, while Turkish marchers protest an European Union (EU) deal that will relocate migrants from Greece to their western township.

This is even as Greek authorities are gearing up to send hundreds of failed asylum-seekers back to Turkey, which is racing to set up reception centres under a controversial EU deal.

Some 750 migrants are set to be sent back between Monday and Wednesday, Greek state news agency ANA said, the first wave of deportations under the much-criticised agreement struck last month.

All irregular migrants now face being sent back from the Greek islands to Turkey, as Europe grapples with its worst migration crisis since World War II.

Greece has been struggling to get the infrastructure in place under its side of the deal, which has been met with scepticism by EU members like Austria, while the United Nations argues it is illegal.

“Planning is in progress,” Yiorgos Kyritsis, spokesman for Greece’s refugee coordination unit, told AFP.

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

There will be one Frontex agent onboard for every single migrant, ANA said. Kyritsis declined to comment on the report.

On the other side of the Aegean Sea, work is under way on a centre to host those sent back in the Turkish tourist resort of Cesme, town mayor Muhittin Dalgic said.

Another is being created in Dikili, opposite Lesbos, one of several Greek islands that has seen a massive influx of people fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Turkish media reports say the Turkish Red Crescent is also preparing to open a refugee camp with capacity for 5,000 people further inland in Manisa.



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