Via EurAsiaNet – There was a time when Turkey felt like a safe haven for victims of political repression in Tajikistan. But the threat of attacks by groups like Islamic State and a state of emergency declared after a July 2016 coup attempt have changed all that.
Via Arab News – The governments of Afghanistan and Turkey have agreed on the deportation of Afghans who have been living in Turkey without legal documents for years, Afghan officials told Arab News on Monday.
[UNHCR]: Returns from Greece to Turkey:The UNHCR’s recent short report reveals interesting results with respect to the refugee/asylum seeker* returns from Greece to Turkey as part of the EU-Turkey Statement:
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]
*: The UNCHR seems to be deliberately avoiding the terms such as refugees, asylum seekers or migrants while mentioning these returned people in its document.
Via Human Rights Watch – (Brussels) – Turkish security forces have routinely intercepted hundreds, and at times thousands, of asylum seekers at the Turkey-Syria border since at least December 2017 and summarily deported them to the war-ravaged Idlib governorate in Syria, Human Rights Watch said today. Turkish border guards have shot at asylum seekers trying to enter Turkey using smuggling routes, killing and wounding them, and have deported to Idlib newly arrived Syrians in the Turkish town of Antakya, 30 kilometers from the Syrian border.The Russian-Syrian military alliance’s December offensive against anti-government forces in Idlib has displaced almost 400,000 civilians, according to the UN. They have joined more than 1.3 million others trapped inside Idlib in insecure, overcrowded camps, and in makeshift camps in fields near the closed Turkish border where they are under constant threat of attack and lack food, clean water, shelter, health care, and aid. At a March 26, 2018 summit meeting in Bulgaria, the European Union should press Turkey to allow Syrian civilians fleeing fighting to seek protection inside Turkey and pledge increased aid to Syrian refugees in Turkey and the region.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Via Evrensel(Report in Turkish)– Amnesty International launched a campaign to end the refugee policy that holds refugees on the Greek islands. Because of the “Readmission Agreement” signed between the European Union and Turkey, the refugees who have been kept on Greek islands since 20 months and have not been given any permission to cross into mainland Greece, are trying to shelter in tents. They are exposed to the hardship when it comes to accessing basic needs such as clean water and health care services. Amnesty International Refugee Rights Coordinator Volkan Görendağ states that Amnesty International is launching a campaign to make the Greek government end its policy on the islands and allow asylum seekers to move to mainland Greece.