Turkish authorities arbitrarily arrested, detained and deported hundreds of Syrian refugee men and boys to Syria between February and July 2022, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported Monday. The report found that hundreds of Syrian refugees have been arrested in their homes, workplaces and on the street. They are then detained in poor conditions, subjected to ill-treatment and forced over the border to Syria.
According to the UN, Turkey hosts the world’s largest refugee population with 3.7 million Syrians under temporary protection and more than 320,000 refugees and asylum-seekers under international protection. The deportation of Syrian refugees, therefore, raises serious concern and is contrary to the treaty and customary international law prohibition of refoulement, which prohibits the return of anyone to a place where they would face a real risk of persecution, torture or other ill-treatment or a threat to life.
Nadia Hardman, refugee and migrant rights researcher at HRW, says the EU must “acknowledge that Turkey does not meet its criteria for a safe third country and suspend its funding of migration detention and border controls until forced deportations cease.”
In May, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated that he aimed to encourage one million Syrian refugees to return to their country by building them housing and local infrastructure in “safe zones” in Northern Syria outside of the government’s reach. However, HRW reports that many have been returned to areas under government control.
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