Balkan Insight – Bulgaria will be able to send back migrants who have crossed its border with Turkey illegally from June 1, according to the protocol signed between Sofia and Ankara on Thursday. The country is the first among EU member states to sign the protocol, which sets procedures for sending refugees back to Turkey.
The Turkish and Bulgarian interior ministers also agreed on procedures for a joint contact centre between Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece, which will start operation in several weeks’ time at the Capitan Andreevo border checkpoint on the Bulgarian-Turkish border. It aims to allow the three countries to exchange operational information on issues related to people-smuggling, contraband and counter-terrorism.
The Guardian – The EU executive on Wednesday gave its provisional blessing to visa-free travel for Turkish tourists and short-stay travellers to the Schengen Area, which excludes the UK and Ireland. It backed the scheme on the condition that Ankara upgrades laws on anti-corruption, terrorism and data protection in the next few weeks. In another important caveat, visa-free travel would only be available to those Turks with biometric passports that include fingerprint recognition chips. Such passports do not exist in Turkey, although the government plans to introduce them from 1 June.
Statewatch – Council of the European Union: Standard Operating Procedures implementing the mechanism for resettlement from Turkey to the EU as set out in the EU-Turkey Statement of 18 March 2016.
Human Rights Watch – With little fanfare or media attention, the European Union and Greece yesterday quietly resumed deporting “irregular migrants” from Greece to Turkey. After a two-week pause, boats reportedly took 31 people from Kos, 13 from Lesbos, and five from Chios – among them Afghanis, Iranians, and Jordanians. Since April 4, when deportations in connection with the flawed EU-Turkey deal began, Greece and the EU border agency Frontex have deported 375 people from the three islands.
Mülteci-Der – It has been reported from various provinces – especially from the provinces near the border with Syria, such as Hatay, Gaziantep and Şanlıurfa – that since February 2016, registration of people for temporary protection (TP) has been getting difficult and that there is almost a suspension of issuing of TP registration cards.
Last year in Izmir, there existed five registration centres where police took ID details, finger prints and photos of those who wanted to register, and issued TP ID cards which enabled people under TP to get access to public services, including health and education. The number of registration offices was reduced to two.
The Guardian – Europe’s leading human rights body has issued a stinging indictment of the EU’s refugee deal with Turkey, which it said at worst exceeds the limits of what is permissible under international law.
A report from the Council of Europe’s assembly listed numerous concerns on human rights, from keeping migrants in overcrowded and insanitary detention centres on the Greek islands to inadequate legal protection for people seeking to appeal against rejection of an asylum claim.
Council of Europe – The EU-Turkey Agreement of 18 March 2016 was adopted as a response to the unprecedented numbers of refugees and migrants arriving in western Europe via the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Balkans route. It raises several serious human rights issues relating to the detention of asylum seekers in the “hotspots” on the Greek Aegean islands, the return of asylum seekers to Turkey as a “first country of asylum” or “safe third country”, the Greek asylum system’s inadequate capacity to administer the asylum process in the hotspots and delays in the provision of EU support to Greece, the likely low level of resettlement of refugees from Turkey, and delays in the disbursement of EU financial assistance to Turkey’s efforts to support Syrian refugees.
In order to ensure that human rights and procedural guarantees of international, EU and national law are respected, the Parliamentary Assembly should make recommendations intended to address these issues to Greece as an implementing partner of the Agreement, and to the European Union, its member States and other States participating in EU resettlement and relocation schemes.
South China Morning Post – A new wave of refugees has fled northern Syria for the Turkish border after Islamic State fighters opened fire on communities that had sheltered them, killing at least three people and uprooting thousands more.
The killings came as the terror group pushed back Syrian opposition forces who had edged to within 8km of Dabiq, a highly symbolic village that the group’s leaders believe is the pre-ordained epicentre of a clash that will herald an apocalyptic showdown .
Nieuwsuur – Eyewitnesses say: Turkey sends back Syrian refugees to Syria. The Turkish Ambassador in The Netherlands denies the allegations. Watch our report and our interview with The Turkish Ambassador in The Netherlands.
EuroNews – Some 325 migrants have been deported to Turkey from the Greek island of Lesbos under an EU deal. They wait to learn of their fate inside a fenced reception and removal centre in the town of Pehlivankoy. The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) says it has yet to gain access to the facility. Migrants from Pakistan, Egypt, Afghanistan and Iraq call for freedom from behind the facility’s barred windows. They were deported from Lesbos on Friday (April 8) under the controversial EU-Turkey deal to stem mass irregular migration to Europe.