Turkey accused of holding back resettlement of refugees based on education level
Emine Kart - ANKARA
AP photoThe European Commission has expressed concern over the Turkish authorities’ rejection of a number of refugees during the resettlement process based on their educational level, sources from the European Delegation to Turkey told the Hürriyet Daily News.
On the occasion of Ankara’s announcement that it will amend its Labor Law to attract a high-qualified labor force through a practice called the “turquoise card,” the related issue of refugees being settled in Europe as part of the Turkey-EU Readmission Agreement struck in March came onto the agenda.
Metin Çorabatır, the head of the Ankara-based Research Center on Asylum and Migration (IGAM) and a former spokesman for the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR in Turkey, told the Hürriyet Daily News last week that they had heard of incidents where well-qualified refugees, granted the right to be settled in EU countries as part of the March 18 deal, were being prevented by Turkish authorities from leaving the country without explanation.
Upon these incidents, the EU called the Turkish side for an explanation, Çorabatır said, citing “reliable sources.”
The response they were given was that “this is a ‘policy implementation.’ We, Turkey, also need a qualified labor force,” the same sources told Çorabatır.
“The Commission is aware that a number of refugees have been rejected by the Turkish authorities during the resettlement process based on their educational level,” said a senior official from the European Union Delegation to Turkey, approached by the Hürriyet Daily News last week.
“The Commission expressed its concern to the Turkish authorities, as those refugees had initially been selected by the Turkish Directorate General of Migration Management [DGMM] on the basis of their vulnerability. But the level of education of resettlement candidates should neither cause positive nor negative discrimination,” the same EU diplomat, who requested anonymity, said.
Upon the delegation’s confirmation of such incidents, the Hürriyet Daily News approached Turkish Foreign Ministry officials for comment.
“The Directorate General of Migration Management is said to have launched such a practice,” said diplomatic sources, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The head of a provincial office of the DGMM refused to comment on the issue when reached by the Hürriyet Daily News, adding that “the ball is in the Foreign Ministry’s court.”
“The Foreign Ministry should have asked about the issue to the directorate and then conveyed their response to you,” the provincial executive of the DGMM, also said, also speaking anonymously as he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
An affiliated body of the Interior Ministry, the DGMM is the main body responsible for the registration of all individuals under the temporary protection regime.
Pursuant to the March 18 EU-Turkey Statement, the EU has been resettling to the EU Syrian nationals who are registered under temporary protection in Turkey. So far, since April 4 only 711 persons have been resettled.