“We are prisoners, although we just wanted to seek asylum in Europe.”

Interview by Gerda Heck

On March 18th of 2016 the so called EU-Turkey deal entered into force. At its core, the agreement aimed at discouraging migrants from travelling by boat from Turkey to the Greek islands by allowing Greece to return migrants arriving after March 20th to Turkey.

On April 4th the first migrants were returned to Dikili from the Greek islands Lesvos and Chios. Among the 66 migrants who were deported from Chios was a group of five Congolese and one Ivorian. After arriving in Turkey, they were directly brought to the Kırklareli removal center at the Bulgarian border, which is in use since 2014. On May 19th, one of them got deported before he was able to apply for international protection. With René[1], one of the spokesmen of the group, Gerda Heck conducted this phone interview recently about their treatment on Chios and their involuntary deportation back to Turkey. Continue reading “We are prisoners, although we just wanted to seek asylum in Europe.”

How the EU-Turkey deal forces refugees to take more dangerous flight routes

The Watch the Med Alarm Phone published a statement on the 27th of May after being contacted by a Syrian refugee who was on one of two boats with a total of 1.000 people – mostly refugees from Syria and Iraq – in distress off the Libyan coast the day before. Through survivors they later learned that one of these boats sank leaving up to 400 people dead. The activists of the Alarm Phone claim that the closure of the Balkan route and the cruel EU-Turkey deal forces refugees to take the more dangerous route through Libya now, which in this case resulted in the death of hundreds of people. Here are some thoughts on how the EU-Turkey deal causes a shift in migration routes. Continue reading How the EU-Turkey deal forces refugees to take more dangerous flight routes

Welcome to HarekAct!

This blog-project is the collective work of a group of researchers and (no border) activists from Turkey, Austria and Germany active in networks such as kritnet (Network for Critical Migration and Border Regime Studies), GAR (Migration Researchers’ Platform, Turkey), Mülteci-Der, borderline-europe, and bordermonitoring.eu.

We decided to set up the blog „HarekAct – Reporting on the Turkish-EU Border Regime“ – a combination of the Turkish word „hareket“ (movement) and the english word „act“. It will aim at contributing to a critical and analytical knowledge production on the question of migration in general, with a focus on the case of Turkey in particular. Continue reading Welcome to HarekAct!

Greece wants send thousands of migrants back to Turkey in coming weeks

Reuters – Greece wants to dramatically escalate returns of migrants to Turkey in the coming weeks under a European Union deal with Ankara, the migration minister said on Friday, amid criticism it has been too slow to process them.

Migration Minister Yannis Mouzalas said Greece wanted to send thousands of migrants who arrived by crossing the Aegean Sea back to Turkey within weeks if they did not qualify for asylum in Greece. “It would constitute failure if, within the next month-and-a-half, those who are obliged to leave the islands didn’t do so,” Mouzalas told Greek TV. Asked how many people that amounted to, Mouzalas said “more than half” of the migrants currently there.

WatchTheMed Alarm Phone denounces illegal push-back operation with Frontex present

Watch the Med Alarm Phone – Between Chios/Greece and Cesme/Turkey, a refugee boat with adults and children escaping wars and conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Eritrea, and elsewhere, were illegally pushed-back to Turkey. Escaping violence to find security in Europe, the refugees were threatened with gun violence when being forced back to Turkey, where they will not find safety. They had already made it into Greek territory but the Greek coast guard, while promising safety and in the presence of two Frontex vessels, returned them to Turkey.

“Refugees are left alone on the streets”

Mediendienst Integration – Dr. Cavidan Soykan, who is part of HarekAct and GAR ‘Migraiton Research Plattform’ did an interview with Mediendienst Integration:  Turkey currently represents the largest refugee-hosting country in the world. However, human rights organizations have raised serious questions on whether its asylum policies abide by international agreements. What does the Turkish asylum system look like? And how are refugees treated?

Greece returns 13 Syrian refugees to Turkey

Greek authorities say they have returned 13 Syrian refugees to Turkey under an agreement between that country and the European Union to stop the flow of migrants and refugees to Europe. Police said the six men, three women and four children were flown Thursday from the island of Chios to Adana in Turkey on a flight chartered by Frontex, the European border patrol agency. It said those returned had not applied for asylum and returned voluntarily.

EU Council urges Greece to consider Turkey safe for Syrian refugees

New Europe – The European Council on Justice and Home Affairs is applying pressure on Greece over a recent statement about the EU-Turkey migration deal. They are urging Athens to recognise Turkey as a safe third-country. “We have to make clear to Greece that the vast majority of member states consider Turkey a safe country for Syrians to be returned to,” stressed one diplomatic source on June 8, prior to the Justice and Home Affairs Council that is slated to be held in Luxembourg on June 9-10.

Reporting on the Turkish-EU Border Regime