Situation of Readmitted Migrants and Refugees from Greece to Turkey under the EU-Turkey Statement

Orçun Ulusoy from Vrije Univeriseit Amsterdam published a research report on readmitted migrants from Greece to Turkey. While many reports and academic papers have been published on the conditions of migrants and refugees in Greece after the unfamous EU-Turkey Deal, little is known about the conditions of the migrants and refuges who were readmitted from Greece to Turkey after the EU-Turkey Statement, he states. With his research paper – which you can read and download under clicking here – he tries to fill this gap. 

You can find the key findings of the research below

Situation of the Non – Syrian Readmitted Migrants

Detention: Readmitted non-Syrian nationals were transferred to the Kırıkkale city Pehlivanköy Removal Centre until May 2017 . Since May 2017, Kayseri Removal Centre is used to accommodate the readmitted migrants. In these centres, readmitted non-Syrian nationals were kept in cells and were not allowed to communicate with their families, lawyers and often denied access to UNHCR representatives. They were locked in their cells with only 5 to 10 minutes of outdoor time before meals; a total of 20 to 30 minutes of outdoor time per day. Furthermore, unaccompanied minors are housed with adults or families in these cells. While there are facilities such as an internet room, library, hairdresser and a sports hall, the detainees were not allowed to use these facilities. Migrants are kept in these Removal Centres for one to two months until they are deported back to third countries or their countries of origin.

Access to Asylum: Readmitted non-Syrian migrants are provided with no information about their situation and rights and are often denied access to UNHCR representatives and NGOs as well as to their lawyers who could advise them of their rights. Furthermore, staff of the removal centres regularly provided misinformation to the migrants; advising detainees not to apply for international protection since this would increase their stay in the removal centre or that they were not allowed to apply for international protection in Turkey because they were readmitted from Greece. Migrants are forced to sign documents which they don’t know the content or not even in their languages.

Our research found out that applying for asylum or any international protection within these Removal Centres is practically impossible. Migrants are not allowed to have pen or paper, their verbal requests to lodge an international protection application are ignored by officials and lawyers are not allowed to see their clients or their files. The latest European Commission report indicates that 1,798 non-Syrian migrants were readmitted between April 2016 and June 2017 and only 56 of them (33%%) applied for international protection in Turkey. According to a Turkish lawyer, applying for international protection from a removal centre is “based on pure luck”. According to this lawyer, the only possibility for readmitted migrants to apply for international protection is through the intervention of a third party: a lawyer or an NGO. Even then, lawyers and NGOs may not be successful on lodging their clients’ applications due to reported arbitrary obstacles even refusals from the officials.

Situation of the Syrian Refugees

Between April 2016 and June 2017, 178 Syrian nationals were readmitted from Greece to Turkey under the EU-Turkey Statement. Readmitted Syrians were transferred to Düziçi Temporary Accommodation Camp in Osmaniye city and Islahiye 2 Camp in Gaziantep city while waiting administration’s decision on their protection status and finalisation of the related paperwork.

According to several independent reports and lawyers interviewed during the field research, the Düziçi Camp is, in practice, a detention facility. Syrian nationals in this camp are not allowed to leave the camp, kept in locked cells and have very limited communication opportunities and access to the outside world.

The presence of a ‘de facto detention camp’’ and administrative detention for persons who are under the temporary protection regime in this camp has no legal basis according to the relevant Turkish legislation (namely Law on Foreigners and International Protection and Temporary Protection Regulation). Furthermore, detaining Syrian nationals who were readmitted from Greece and Turkey also does not have a legal basis.

To get further information, read the full report