EU-Turkey summit proposal attacks refugee rights, Amnesty Turkey researcher says

EU-Turkey summit proposal attacks refugee rights, Amnesty Turkey researcher says

Öykü Altuntaş - Doğan News Agency
EU-Turkey summit proposal attacks refugee rights, Amnesty Turkey researcher says

Migrants sit on rail tracks as they face a fence guarded by Macedonian police at the Greek-Macedonian border, near the Greek village of Idomeni, on February 29 , 2016, where more than 7,000 people are stranded. AFP Photo

The outcome of the EU-Turkey summit in Brussels was “an attack on the right to seek asylum,” according to Amnesty International (AI) Turkey researcher Andrew Gardner, who said the March 7 summit stands out as the EU’s latest effort to “escape from its responsibilities” with regards to Syrian refugees. 

The summit marked a “new low for respect for human rights in the EU,” Gardner remarked. 

Following the summit aimed to ease the flow of refugees and manage the crisis, Turkey and EU countries shared a proposal which would see a Syrian legally settled within the EU for every illegal Syrian refugee returned to Turkey from Greece.

AI had slammed the outline of a final agreement and defined it as a “wrought with moral and legal flaws.” AI also urged humanitarian needs and the right to international protection for asylum seekers.

‘For each resettled, another’s life is risked’

According to Gardner, “the plan to make resettlement dependent on Turkey accepting [the] return of refugees” did not meet AI’s call.

“For each Syrian resettled, another must risk her or his life making the irregular crossing,” said Gardner.
“Turkey, the largest host of refugees in the world, should not receive refugees returned from the EU,” he added.

‘EU should commit independently to resettle refugees’

While calling on the EU to “acknowledge its responsibilities,” AI’s Turkey researcher urged member countries to “commit independently to resettling refugees from Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon.”

AI has strongly contested the concept of a “safe third country” after EU leaders said the legality of the proposal would be possible once Turkey was designated a “safe country.” In the case of Turkey in particular, there is huge cause for concern given the current situation and treatment of migrants and refugees.

“The idea of bartering refugees for refugees is not only dangerously dehumanizing, but also offers no sustainable long-term solution to the ongoing humanitarian crisis,” said Iverna McGowan, the head of AI’s European Institutions Office.

“Sending them back to Turkey knowing their strong claim to international protection will most likely never be heard reveals EU claims to respect refugees’ human rights as hollow words,” McGowan added. “Turkey has forcibly returned refugees to Syria and many refugees in the country live in desperate conditions without adequate housing. Hundreds of thousands of refugee children cannot access formal education. By no stretch of imagination can Turkey be considered a ‘safe third country’ that the EU can cozily outsource its obligations to.”