Hürriyet Daily News – Turkey last year erected 330 kilometers of walls along its borders with Syria and Iraq to fight illegal crossings, the Turkish military said on Jan. 14. According to a Turkish General Staff press statement on border incidents in 2016, Turkey also put up 191 kilometers of reinforced fences along those borders to boost physical security. The statement said that nearly 425,000 people from 74 different countries trying to illegally cross Turkey’s borders were captured in 2016, adding that over 390,000 of them were from war-torn Syria.
The statement added that foreign fighters from 68 different countries tried to cross the border to join the Daesh terrorist organization from August to December 2016, but that this number was seven times less than in the same period in 2015.
Ekathimerini – Greek authorities have said another 27 Syrian refugees who had their initial bids for asylum rejected have been returned to Turkey. A public order ministry statement late Thursday said the 17 men, four women and six children were flown Thursday from the eastern Aegean Sea island of Lesvos to Adana.
Era Aegean* – Frontex wants to charter three ships for the next two years, with a one year renewal option, in order to make deportations of refugees and migrants from Lesvos, Chios and Kos towards ports of Turkey.
The notice of the Frontex tender is made under the controversial EU-Turkish Declaration on the refugee issue, although the situation of human rights is precarious in the neighboring country [Turkey] and although a decision from the Council of State is still pending on the legality of the decision to expel two Syrians, who deny that Turkey is a “safe third country” for them. Continue reading Frontex charters ships for deportations to Turkey
Lesvos News (link in Greek) – In total 10 persons, whose asylum applications were rejected by the second instance committee as well, were returned today from the port of Mytilene to the port of Dikili inTurkey, in implementation of the agreement between the European Union and Turkey. Five of them are from Pakistan, one from Iran, one from Iraq, one from Algeria and one from Egypt. Nine of them are men and one (from Iran) woman. Responsible for the return was Frontex. Continue reading 10 people deported from Lesvos to Turkey
Human Rights Watch published their annual report on the worldwide human rights situation. The chapter on Turkey contains a paragraph on refugees and migrants:
“Turkey continued to host large numbers of refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants, primarily from Syria, but also from Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries. The number of asylum seekers transiting to Greece fell after the March EU-Turkey migration deal (see European Union chapter). Despite increased aid and some efforts by authorities, most refugees and asylum seekers lack effective protection, education, or formal employment, with high rates of child labor and a particularly precarious situation for non-Syrians. Hundreds of thousands of Syrian children are still not attending school. A January decree allowing some Syrians to apply for work permits has had little effect to date.
Turkey’s border gates and entire land border with Syria remain closed although people seriously injured in fighting are admitted to Turkey for medical treatment. Syrian refugees attempting to cross into Turkey at unofficial crossing points are summarily pushed back into Syria and some asylum seekers and smugglers attempting the crossing have been shot dead or beaten by Turkish border guards.”
The head of TOKI Ergun Turan declared that the wall of Syria will be completed in April: “We are constructing the border walls of Gaziantep, Şanlıurfa and Kilis. This is very important for the control of people’s passage, and for ensuring security”. The security forces who remark that construction works for the building of concrete walls on Syrian border is continuing:
“The work in Syrian border is continuing. The planning for afterwards is ongoing as well. If there won’t be any change, the work for the eastern border will start after the southern border ends. We are planning to build walls at the border cities like Ardahan, Iğdır, and Kars.” Along the borderline, they are installing barbed wires on the constructed walls, the portable walls weigh 7 tones and they are 2 meters wide and 3 meters high.
Son Dakika (link in Turkish) – According to a statement from the Turkish Cast Guard Command (SAHİL Güvenlik Komutanlığı), 239 irregular migrants were caught in Turkish territorial waters during the last week in the Aegean and Mediterranean Sea. Between 30 December 2016 and 6 January 2017 the Turkish Coast Guard Command had launched an operation including boats, helicopters and planes to prevent irregular migration towards Europe. Additionally 118 irregular migrants were arrested on land in Karaburun, Çeşme and Dikili.
Tagesschau (link in German) – According to the German newspaper ‘Welt am Sonntag’ a total of 801 refugees were deported from the Greek islands to Turkey in the frame of the EU-Turkey deal until now. More than half of the readmissions took place in the two first month after the deal came into effect.
Bordermonitoring Bulgaria – On the 6th of January, the Bulgarian Border Police made the case of two more dead people public, who were found by villagers near the village of Izvor in the region of Burgas near the Strandzha mountain massif. They had died of exposure to low temperatures. It was reported that the two Iraqi men were 28 and 35 years old. Only four days ago a Somali woman died in the same region.
Every year several migrants die in Bulgaria on their way to cross Bulgaria’s borderlands – especially in the winter period. Actually nobody knows how many people died all in all in Bulgaria’s borderlands in the last years, because there is no statistics available. Often migrants who passed through the region report about corpses, which they had seen in the woods. The migrants try to cross in the mountain region where there is no fence blocking the way. Bordermonitoring Bulgaria (BMB) calls the Bulgarian authorities to rethink their politics towards refugees as a whole and asks them additionally to collect statistics about the various deaths which happen in the border region.
En Son Haber (link in Turkish) – The Turkish coast guard is now using planes to spot refugees boats and prevent them from departing towards Greece. A Turkish coast guard plane identified a refugee boat on the shores of Dikili, a city close to Izmir and subsequently informed the Dikili gendarmery. The gendarmery stopped the 37 Syrian refugees before departing and took them to the gendarmery station.