ATHENS - Greece resumed the return of refugees to Turkey for the first time since the failed Turkish coup and the 18th of March EU-Turkey refugee return agreement, thus ending a two month period with no returns at all.
In the past 24 hours Greece returned two small immigrant batches to Turkish authorities, the first group composed of eight Syrian men flown out from the Greek island of Lesbos to Adana airport by a Frontex border protection agency aircraft.
This return was followed, hours later, by another six immigrants back to Turkey.
According to the AMNA Greek news agency, police sources said that four Pakistanis and two Algerians, who waived their right to seek refugee status will be sent to a refugee camp near Istanbul.
The six men departed Lesbos to the Turkish port of Dikili on board a boat chartered by the EU Frontex agency.
In a brief statement released, late Wednesday night, by the Greek Ministry of Civil Protection, these returns were executed within the framework of the EU-Turkey refugee return agreement that envisages all immigrants and refugees arrivals to Greece after the 20th of March would be returned to Turkish territory, provided they do not seek asylum in Greece.
Since January, 1,055 persons have returned under the bilateral Greece-Turkey protocols and 521 under the EU-Turkey agreement.
In all, 2016 migrant's voluntary returns have totaled 3,647.
Meanwhile, the Greek Coast Guard announced on Thursday that in the past 24 hours, 153 refugees were rescued in four operations in the maritime zone of Lesbos and Samos.
The refugee camps in the Aegean Sea are saturated with over 11,000 persons when their maximum capacity is only 7,500 people.
In the past two days there have been numerous migrant arrests who were trying to leave Greece by plane with forged documents.
According to the police, at Rhodes airport six afghans and two Syrians, aged between 15 and 47, were held trying to board planes to Switzerland and Italy with Greek, Italian, Bulgarian and French forged passports.
In addition, two youths, one from Cameroon and another from Pakistan were detained in Lesbos trying to board an Athens flight with false ID's.