Via Gulf Times – Turkey was on Sunday deporting hundreds of Afghan migrants back home on special flights, in a major operation after thousands illegally entered the country in recent weeks.
UNHCR data on returns from Greece published by the Ankara Initiative for Migration Studies:
- The number of total returns amounts to 1583 within the last two years. (91%: Men, 5%: Children, 4%: Women)
- Around 41 % of these returns are from Afghanistan followed by the Syrians with 17 percent.
- “47 % did not express a will to apply for asylum or withdrew their will to apply for asylum or withdrew their asylum claims in Greece.” In other words, they wanted to stay in Turkey or lost their eagerness/hopes to be back in Greece and the EU. [Read the 1-page report]
Via Newsdeeply – On the second anniversary of the E.U.-Turkey deal that curbed refugee boats to Greece, experts from Turkey, Greece and Germany weigh in on the agreement’s impact on refugees and on Europe.
The E.U.-Turkey statement of March 20, 2016, was a turning point in Europe’s crisis over refugees.
Under the deal, Turkey would prevent boats leaving its shores for Greece, while Athens would return arriving migrants to Turkey. In exchange, the E.U. would increase funding and resettlement for refugees in Turkey, along with other political sweeteners.
Very little of the deal’s original provisions have been implemented, but the number of boats did drop drastically (while continuing to fluctuate, just as the journey continues to be deadly). Coming after 1 million people arrived in Europe in 2015, E.U. policymakers continue to defend the deal as a major success.
At the same time, human rights groups say many of their warnings about the agreement have been realized: Refugees are warehoused in dire conditions on the Greek islands while Turkey threatens a new surge in refugee boats to ward off criticism about its human rights situation.
On the second anniversary of its signing, we asked experts from Turkey, Greece and Germany weigh in on the agreement’s impact on refugees and on Europe.
Continue reading Expert Views: The E.U.-Turkey Deal After Two Years
Via Anadolu Ajansı (Link in Turkish) – In two separate incidents in the Uzumlu county of Erzincan, 157 illegal migrants were arrested.
The gendarmerie teams were controlling on the Eastern Express train, which travels from Kars to Ankara, when they realized that a group of 40 people, nationals from Afghanistan and Pakistan, two of them women, 3 of them children, where holding fake documents. Continue reading 157 migrants were caught in Erzincan
Via Ekathimerini (from 11th Feb) – Just 16 percent of asylum seekers who undertook the journey to Greece can be returned to Turkey under Greek law and European directives, Maria Stavropoulou, the former head of the Greek asylum service, has told Kathimerini.
“Given what we know about Turkey, those who can be shipped back are mostly Syrians, who enjoy a high level of protection,” said Stavropoulou, adding that the agency has ruled that 2,200 Syrians can be returned from Greece to Turkey on safe third country grounds. Continue reading “Only 16% of asylum seekers can be sent back to Turkey”: Maria Stavropoulou, former head of the Greek asylum service
Via AYS – The 23 year old Syrian refugee K. went from Germany to Greece to meet his younger brother who were supposed to come from Turkey by the end of November 2016. When he looked for him in Didimoticho, Greece, showing a photo of the 11-year old brother, he was arrested. 14 months later, K. is back in Greece after being pushed back to Turkey with 50 other migrants on the 30th of November 2016.
The New Arab published a story on February 2nd on IOM ‘voluntary return programme’: “A scheme to repatriate refugees whose asylum bids have been rejected amounts to bullying and bribing desperate people to return to desperate situations, reports Matt Broomfield.” Valeria Hänsel also wrote on that same issue for HarekAct two weeks back.
Via The New Arab – A “voluntary” returns programme being heavily marketed to refugees is leaving them stranded in inhumane conditions in Greek and Turkish jails for months at a time, and facing imprisonment and torture once they return to their home countries – if they are ever able to get there at all.
For many refugees arriving in Greece and Turkey, whose claims for asylum are rejected, the International Organisation for Migration‘s Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) programme is effectively the only alternative to brutal jail systems. They are forced to give up their right to appeal their asylum decision in order to escape six or 12 months of confinement by accepting “voluntary” return. Continue reading Investigation: Coercive ‘voluntary’ deportations leave refugees trapped in jail
By Muriel Schweizer and Valeria Hänsel
The number of people who agree to “voluntary” return from Greece to their country of origin with the programme of “Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration” of the “International Organization for Migration” (IOM) is significantly higher than the number of deportations to Turkey since the EU-Turkey statement.
What happens to migrants who sign up for the IOM return programme during the process and after the return to their home countries? Why do asylum seekers agree to leave Europe again?
The observation of several cases reveals that many migrants face detention and serious physical and mental harm during and after their participation in the programme of “Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration”.
Musaferat – a collective active on Lesvos against the deportation practise – published an insightful summary of the events during the last month on Lesvos. From the unbearable living conditions in Moria, iltreatment of minor refugees, deportations and ‘voluntary returns’ and policy violence against protests.