Turkey must ensure that fewer refugees enter Greece by the time EU leaders meet later this month, European Commissioner Johannes Hahn said Saturday. Hahn stated [Reuters report] that a reduction was expected when Turkey agreed to an action plan two months ago and that Turkey has a duty to patrol its western coast and cooperate with Greece. Officials in Turkey have reported [BBC report] that the number migrants seeking to cross the border into their country has doubled, with an estimated 35,000 Syrians waiting at the border. Although Turkey has remained open to Syrians for years, Turkey announced on Saturday it was closing the border. Hahn also urged Turkey to open the border crossing for migrants, as required by the Geneva Convention. The EU reportedly promised to give Turkey 3 billion Euros (USD $3.2 Billion) in November to help the country keep refugees within their borders and representatives from 60 countries met on Thursday to pledge additional donations. Hahn warned that if Turkey does not control the migration, it will result in stronger border controls and more fences.
The issue of migrant rights has emerged as one of the most significant humanitarian issues around the world, as millions seek asylum from conflict nations. In November UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed [JURIST report] the UN General Assembly and cautioned the international community to avoid discrimination against Muslims, especially refugees and migrants entering Europe, as a result of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris a week earlier. Earlier that month Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] analyzed [JURIST report] the EU’s approach to the refugee crisis and recommended changes to ensure international law is followed and human rights are appropriately valued. In October Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] called on [JURIST report] the EU and Western Balkans states to focus on remedying what it characterized as deplorable conditions for asylum-seekers in Europe. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights gave the opening statement [JURIST report] at the 30th session of the Human Rights Council in September in which he addressed, among other pressing human rights issues, the migrant crisis.