Via University of Oxford / Faculty of Law – Today, Turkey is host to approximately 3.4 million refugees and asylum seekers, including more than 3.2 million Syrians. Due to its strategic location, Turkey has been a transit country for migrants and refugees, a necessary stop on their way to Europe. In 2015, nearly one million people arrived irregularly in Europe by sea, with more than 856,723 refugees and migrants traveling to Greece by sea from Turkey. This explains why cooperation with the Turkish government has become an essential part of the European policy to manage migration.
Event Announcement – Rejections and Returns: The EU-Turkey Statement and its consequences for refugees in Greece, Turkey and Germany
Monday, 20 November, 19:00 – 21:00
ECCHR, Zossener Straße 55-58 (Aufgang D), 10961 Berlin
The EU-Turkey Statement from March 2016 stipulates that “[a]ll new irregular migrants crossing from Turkey into Greek islands as from 20 March 2016 will be returned to Turkey”. Under the adjusted procedures, people who arrive on the Greek islands are subjected to accelerated border procedures and an initial admissibility test on their asylum claim. The European Asylum Support Office (EASO), an EU agency, is in charge of “recommending” a decision to the competent Greek Asylum Service. Based on the dubious assumption that Turkey is a safe third country, many refugees currently face the risk of being deported back there. Cases against this further erosion of the right to asylum are pending at the European Court of Human Rights. At the same time, EASO’s practice is under scrutiny by the European Ombudsman, due to a complaint lodged by ECCHR. Continue reading Rejections and Returns: The EU-Turkey Statement and its consequences for refugees in Greece, Turkey and Germany
The Italian research institute “Istituto Affari Internazionali” published a paper in January on the paradox in EU-Turkish relations regarding their migration cooperation:
“Since the beginning of the Arab uprisings in 2011 and as a result of growing instability in the region, migration transit through Turkey has become an increasingly pressing issue in Europe. The transit of migrants placed Turkey in a buffer position between the Middle East and Europe, and it soon assumed the role of guardian of the Schengen area, “protecting” it from irregular migration. This, combined with the exponential growth of irregular migration flows – soon dubbed the “migrant crisis” – resulted in migration management becoming a key to the ostensible rapprochement between Turkey and the EU. However, as a result of many paradoxes, migration can also hamper Turkey-EU relations, as is already becoming obvious as relations took a turn for the worse since the summer of 2016.”
The Greek authorities are deporting migrants on the Greek islands to Turkey in an expedited process – raising concerns over potentially illegal and prejudiced practices, reports Matt Broomfield.
Via The New Arab – Refugees from so-called “undesirable” countries are being jailed upon arrival to the Greek islands, before being put through a summary fast-track asylum procedure and returned to detention in Turkey within a matter of weeks, it has emerged.
Individuals from North Africa and South Asia are being singled out upon arrival, due to a policy that has been described as racist and illegal.
Tents without electricity, huts, overcrowding, sick and abandoned people: Chios Solidarity publicizes audiovisual material describing the inhumane living conditions in the outdoor campsite-store of people outside the hotspot of the saturated VIAL and calls for immediate action.
Via Chios Solidarity
Since the EU-Turkey deal was implemented, arbitrary detention of asylum seekers on the Greek Hotspot Islands has been on the rise. On Lesvos Island the police detains – among others – people who they consider as “trouble makers” and asylum seekers who gave up their right to apply for a protection status and agreed to so-called “voluntary return” after months of forcibly staying in terrible living conditions behind barbed wire. Until recently, members of six nationalities were furthermore simply detained on basis of their national belonging. In September, this illegal detention practice has been expanded to 28 nationalities. Affected are nationalities with less than 25% acceptance rate who are sweepingly considered as “economic migrants”. Asylum seekers with the respective national belongings are detained in a pre-removal centre within Moria camp without adequate access to basic goods such as clothes or medical and legal support. Continue reading 28 “reasons” for arbitrary detention
Via Legal Centre Lesbos – In September, Mr. Maarten Verwey, EU coordinator for implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement, travelled to Lesvos and met with authorities in the camps, and the Mytilene mayor’s office. He did not, however, meet with any of the individuals best placed to brief him on the impact of the EU-Turkey Statement: the refugees and asylum seekers who know all too well how refugees are treated in Turkey, and as a consequence of the ‘deal’, have been trapped on Lesvos for months and years living in inhumane and degrading conditions in perpetual fear of deportation.
Their situation is constantly deteriorating: The European Commission increases pressure to return even asylum seekers who are classified as vulnerable and individuals applying for family reunification to Turkey. Furthermore, the Greek Council of State Plenary – Greece’s highest administrative court – ruled that Turkey is a safe country, setting dangerous precedent for forcible returns to Turkey under EU-Turkey deal, trampling roughshod over overwhelming evidence that basic human rights of returnees are systematically violated by Erdogan’s repressive authoritarian regime.
However, refugees and supporters on Lesvos keep up resistance. They go on protests marches, occupied the main Square in the town of Mytilene and demand freedom of movement.
Via University of Oxford – Turkey was regarded as a safe third country for the purposes of the EU-Turkey Statement and on September 22, 2017, the Greek Council of State approved decisions of earlier Appeals Committees, which declared Turkey a safe third country; thus paving the way for more returns. However, little is known about the reception conditions of the migrants and asylum seekers who have been readmitted to Turkey. To fill this knowledge gap and to achieve a better understanding of the impacts of the Statement, the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Migration Law Section conducted research that was funded by the Dutch Council for Refugees.
The following article is a summary of a report by Orcun Ulusoy for Free University Berlin, which you can find here.
Via Ekathimerini – A group of 234 refugees boarded a charter flight from Athens to Lyon, France on Wednesday as part of the European Union’s relocation program, while dozens more migrants, deemed to belong to vulnerable groups, were transferred by ferry from the islands of the Aegean to mainland Greece. Continue reading Refugees relocated, others go to mainland
Since the EU-Turkey statement came into force on March 20th 2016, thousands of refugees became trapped on the Greek islands. Some of them will soon experience their second winter on the islands, waiting for the examination of their asylum claims or for their deportation to Turkey.
Last winter, in the European hotspot camp Moria on Lesvos alone, six people died. No one took responsibility for their deaths. This winter, people seeking protection and a decent life will again be forced to sleep on the ground in thin summer tents and behind barbed wire. Given the circumstances, it seems likely that more deaths will follow.
Grassroots initiatives and small organizations from the Greek islands and mainland have joined forces, supported by international solidarity groups calling together to “Open the islands – No more dead from cold”. HarekAct joins this statement, in which we demand the European Union and the Greek government to put an end to the restriction of movement to the islands, and let people move on at last to find safety! Continue reading JOINT STATEMENT: Open the Greek islands – No more dead from cold