European Commission spokesman Margaritas Schinas said the first returns were legal, even though Turkey has not yet changed its regulations – which the EU said was necessary at the time the deal was made.
Despite the threat of deportation back to Turkey, more people arrived on the Greek islands in the 24-hours before Monday than were transported to Dikili, Greek authorities said.
A few hours after the first boat of returnees set sail from Lesbos, Greek coast guard vessels rescued at least two dinghies carrying more than 50 migrants and refugees, including children and a woman in a wheelchair, trying to reach the island.
Firaz, 31, a Syrian Kurd travelling with his cousin, said: “We are just going to try our chance. It is for our destiny. We are dead anyway.”
Asked whether he knew the Greeks were sending people back, he said: “I heard maybe Iranians, Afghans. I didn’t hear they were sending back Syrians to Turkey. At least I did what I could. I’m alive. That’s it.”