Several aid organizations urged EU leaders on Thursday to stop deportations of migrants from Greece to Turkey and to stop detaining asylum seekers. Oxfam, Norwegian Refugee Council and Solidarity Now [advocacy websites] took part in the joint letter. The deportations are part of a deal [JURIST report] struck last month between Turkey and EU leaders in which all migrants crossing the Aegean into Greece would be sent back to Turkey. The rights groups report [press release] that thousands of migrants are being held in detention camps in Greece and many are returned to Turkey without proper asylum hearings. The “fast-track” expedited asylum hearings adopted by Greece are also of concern, they say, because important decisions and examinations concerning asylum are made by understaffed agencies in only one day. The rights groups are also calling for EU to open all camps housing asylum seekers, increase the number of asylum officers in Greece and improve security in the facilities.
The rights of migrant populations has emerged as one of the most significant humanitarian issue around the world. Last month UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged [JURIST report] world leaders to accept more refugees and to combat the growing international anti refugee sentiments. An independent UN human rights expert in March encouraged EU leaders to remain [JURIST report] steadfast in their obligations to handle the recent influx of migrants to the EU and to avoid making Turkey the “gatekeeper.” Also in March Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] Executive Director Kenneth Roth urged EU leaders [JURIST report] to reject a proposed EU Joint Action Plan with Turkey to handle the influx of migrants due to the “disregard for international law covering the rights of refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants.”