Amnesty: EU cannot return refugees to Turkey under new agreement

Amnesty: EU cannot return refugees to Turkey under new agreement

The EU must stop returning refugees to Turkey, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] said [press release] Friday in a briefing [materials]. The briefing details the defects in Turkey’s care of refugees, stating that the hardships faced by refugees cause such a return to be illegal under the EU-Turkey Agreement of March 18 [text, PDF]. While open to refugees, AI claims that Turkey’s resources have become drained under the weight of approximately 2.75 million Syrian refugees and 400,000 asylum-seekers and refugees from other countries who have entered the country. Issues involving such as child labor, durable solutions, and subsistence have arisen due to the number of people seeking safety.

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.”