Tag Archives: Voluntary Returns

The Guardian on unlawful deportation from Turkey to Syria

Via The Guardian [16.10.2018]With tension mounting in Idlib, people trying to flee across the border are being given the choice of detention or waiving their right to asylum

The Syrian town of Atimha, at the border wall between Turkey and Syria.
The Syrian town of Atimha, at the border wall between Turkey and Syria. Photograph: Osman Orsal/Reuters

Tareq* can recall in detail each of the 22 times he climbed over the concrete border wall, dodged a flurry of bullets, and sprinted as fast as he could – until Turkish border guards caught him and turned him back.

On his 23rd attempt, the soldiers drove the 26-year-old Syrian to a police station called Branch 500 in Hatay. There they presented him with a choice: either stay in prison – for how long, they wouldn’t say – or sign a paper and walk free.

“It’s not like they’re physically putting a gun to your head, but you have no other option,” Tareq says. He signed and the next day he was driven across the border and dropped back where he had started, in Idlib.

Continue reading The Guardian on unlawful deportation from Turkey to Syria

Study by the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament published

The EU-Turkey Statement and the Greek Hotspots – A Failed European Pilot Project in Refugee Policy

The Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament recently published a study focusing on the detrimental impact that the EU-Turkey Statement and the implementation of the “hotspot approach” in Greece is having on the rights of refugees and migrants arriving. The study finds that the current procedures and practices for processing asylum applications on the Greek islands under the EU-Turkey statement violate the applicants’ right to asylum and due process.

The study can be downloaded here.

UN Agency Says 10,000 Refugees Left Greece Voluntarily From June 2016

Via Greek Reporter – The International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN migration agency, is reporting that more than 10,000 migrants left voluntarily from Greece between June 2016 and April this year.

Among the returnees, almost 8,380 were men and 2,125 were women. The IOM says special assistance was provided to 77 unaccompanied migrant children, helping them to reunite with their families.

The voluntary returns saw people go back to their homes in 84 countries and territories over a 20-month period through a program funded by the EU and Greece.

Continue reading UN Agency Says 10,000 Refugees Left Greece Voluntarily From June 2016

Syrian refugees leaving Germany over family reunification policy

Via Deutsche Welle – Syrians granted limited asylum but denied the right to fetch relatives are departing Germany for Turkey by using smugglers, say German media. The cases, if confirmed, bizarrely reverse the “Balkan route” drama of 2015.

Thousands of Syrian refugees are attempting to leave Germany despite being legally entitled to stay, according to a report to be aired Thursday on German public broadcaster ARD.
Continue reading Syrian refugees leaving Germany over family reunification policy

Investigation: Coercive ‘voluntary’ deportations leave refugees trapped in jail

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

The Myth of Voluntary Deportations – “Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration” from Greece

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”.

Photo: IOM Greece

Continue reading The Myth of Voluntary Deportations – “Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration” from Greece

Refugees at heightened risk of refoulement under Turkey’s state of emergency

Amnesty International published a short report about deportations and forceful ‘voluntary returns’ to Syria: 

Amnesty International is concerned that Turkey has become an even less safe space for refugees and asylum-seekers since the coup attempt on 15 July 2016. Safeguards against being sent to other countries where they face a risk of serious human rights violations have been drastically reduced as part of the measures adopted under the state of emergency in place following the failed coup.  Continue reading Refugees at heightened risk of refoulement under Turkey’s state of emergency

“Free us or be responsible for our deaths”

Author: Valeria Hänsel

For 14 days, refugee activist Arash Hampay has refused food. On the Greek island of Lesvos, he sits on the central square of the town Mytilini surrounded by shops, cafés and tourists, presenting a sign stating “Refugees are not Criminals”.

He is exhausted but determined to continue his hunger strike until the end. His open statement leaves no doubt:

“We shall continue our hunger strike until the prisoners in Moria camp are released, regardless of the consequences for us. A life without freedom is worthless and meaningless for us. You must release the refugees or we shall end our lives in front of your eyes and the people’s eyes. We are waiting for you. The people are waiting for you. You must free us or else be responsible for our death. We will keep waiting until the last drop of life falls from our bodies.”

Surrounded by tourists and cafes, Arash Hampay has started a hunger strike on the island of Lesvos. Photo by: Lorraine Leete, Legal Centre Lesbos.

Continue reading “Free us or be responsible for our deaths”