Turkey has been forcibly returning up to 100 refugees to Syria per day, since mid-January, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] reported [press release] Friday. In addition to Turkish authorities rounding-up refugees in migrant camps near the border, AI has also alleged that some migrants attempting to register in Turkey were, instead, removed back to Syria. The report criticized the recent migrant deal between Turkey and the EU, expressing concern over the possible future of the refugees to be sent back to Turkey after arriving in Greece. “If the agreement proceeds as planned, there is a very real risk that some of those the EU sends back to Turkey will suffer the same fate” AI said. If true, the allegations are illegal under not only international law, but the laws of the EU, and Turkey itself.
In March EU leaders agreed to a deal [JURIST report] with Turkey to stem migrant flows, particularly of Syrian refugees, to Europe in return for financial and political incentive to Ankara. Under the terms of the deal [WP report], all migrants crossing the Aegean into Greece would be sent back to Turkey, effectively turning the country into the region’s “migrant holding center.” In return for receiving the migrants, the EU is promising [Reuters report] to speed disbursement of €3 billion to Turkey, while offering an additional €3 billion by 2018 contingent upon creation of plans qualifying for EU assistance. That same month, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi [official profile], expressed concerns [text] for the then proposed migrant exchange program [JURIST report] between the EU and Turkey. Grandi said in his speech before the European Parliament [official website], “I am deeply concerned about any arrangement that would involve the blanket return of anyone from one country to another without spelling out the refugee protection safeguards under international law.” AI also demonstrated concern [press release] over the deal, calling it “an alarmingly short-sighted and inhumane attitude to handling this crisis.”