First Greek return to Turkey; first Syrians from Turkey to the Netherlands

For the first time since the agreements between the EU and Turkey, Syrians and other irregular migrants returned today from Greece to Turkey. In accordance with the agreements Syrians were also transferred for the first time today from Turkey to a number of EU member states. Tomorrow the first Syrians will be transferred to the Netherlands.


Minister for Migration (Security and Justice) is pleased that the EU-Turkey agreement is now actually being implemented. “Our aim has always been to put a stop to the irregular migration flow from Turkey to the Greek islands, discourage migrants from risking the hazardous crossing and undermine the business model of human smugglers. Today a credible start was made in achieving those objectives.”

The EU, in exchange for the return of the irregular Syrian migrants travelling from Turkey to the Greek islands since 20 March 2016, will take Syrians from Turkey. This will all be done in accordance with all the applicable European and international agreements. In this way the EU wants to lighten the burden placed on Turkey because of the fact that it is offering safety to millions of Syrians.
Minister Koenders emphasises the importance of thorough implementation of the agreements: “This is a good first step in working together with Turkey to keep people out of the hands of human smugglers and create more room for regular, safe migration. Of course we will continue to monitor compliance with the high human rights standards agreed to with Turkey in this regard. This morning I discussed that very subject with the UNHCR.”

Today the agreements had their first concrete results with the sending back of the first migrants from Greece to Turkey. The group included Afghans, Iraqis and many other nationalities including Syrians. At the same, Syrians will today be resettled from Turkey to the EU.

Germany, Finland and the Netherlands will take part in these first resettlements. Later this week other European countries will follow. The Netherlands will take 34 Syrians. In the coming period Dijkhoff will urge other countries to bear their collective responsibility in relation to the agreements made, and appeal to them to take a proportionate number of the Syrians to be resettled.
The Syrians arriving in the Netherlands this week have already been interviewed by the IND (Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service) in Turkey. It has been established that they are entitled to a residence permit. In the same way as other asylum seekers in the Netherlands, they will be placed in an asylum seekers’ centre until suitable housing becomes available. It is anticipated that more migrants including Syrians will return from Greece to Turkey in the coming period, and that it will also be possible to fly more Syrians out of the refugee camps in Turkey to European member states.

Ministry responsible