Via ECRE – On March 22 Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported interceptions of large groups of Syrian refugees by Turkish security forces who since Deecember 2017 have “summarily deported them to the war-ravaged Idlib governorate in Syria.” In its reponse the Directorate General of Migration Management (DGMM) in Turkey’s Ministry of Interior denies the allegations and underlined the fact that Turkey offers temporary protection to more than 3.5 million Syrians. Continue reading Human Rights Watch report: push backs of Syrian refugees by Turkey
Via Spiegel Online (Link in German) – 16 refugees died in the Aegean sea one week ago when their boat was sinking in front of the Greek island Agathonisi, in the largest shipwreck in the Aegean this year so far. On board were two families from Afghanistan and Iraq, many children, including a few months old baby, a total of 21 people. But only three adults made it ashore – all children drowned. Two people are still missing.
Spiegel Online reports in German that now the only three survivors are raising serious allegations, claiming that their families could have been saved. They explained that the coast guard had been contacted several times in early stage throughout calls and text messages. Also a ship had been on site for hours but did not respond to the waving and calling of the people in distress. Continue reading Shipwreck off Agathonisi, Greece: Survivors are raising serious allegations against Greek Coast Guards
Syrian refugees in Turkey face calls to return as public mood changes. For years, most Turks courteously accepted the Syrians fleeing to their country. But attitudes towards refugees appear to be hardening, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has hinted the solution could lie in Afrin, the Kurdish enclave in northwestern Syria his troops have just occupied.
Via IRIN – There is talk of infrastructure being rebuilt in Afrin, of voluntary returns, of perhaps 350,000 to 500,000 Syrians being encouraged to go back. But few refugees in Turkey are from Afrin, and it’s unlikely many would want to return to an active war zone, especially if they’re not Kurdish or from that region. Surveys indicate that even if the fighting ends, half of the estimated 3.8 million Syrians (3.4 million registered and up to 400,000 unregistered) in Turkey intend to stay. Continue reading Syrian refugees in Turkey face calls to return as public mood changes
Via Deutsche Welle (from 2nd March) – Turkey’s offensive on Afrin will oust the “terrorist menace” and will ensure the return of Syrian refugees – that’s been the message of President Erdogan. He’s catering to his voters, says DW’s Dorian Jones in Istanbul.
“We are not in a position to continue hosting 3.5 million refugees forever. We’ll solve the Afrin situation … and we would like our refugee brothers and sisters to return to their own country,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared earlier this month, speaking to provincial leaders at his presidential palace.
This was a remarkable turnaround for Erdogan and his government.
Since the start of the Syrian civil war, Turkey has pursued an open-door policy for those fleeing the conflict. “We regard you as our brothers and sisters … Turkey is also your homeland,” Erdogan told refugees at the Syrian border during Ramadan 2016 — even offering them Turkish nationality if they wanted it.
Via The Black Sea – Under an agreement in March 2016, the EU pledged six billion Euro to Turkey to effectively trap millions of refugees within its country and stop them from entering the European Union.
This is not the only cash from the EU. It also pays Turkey for military equipment which is used at its borders with Syria and Greece to halt those wishing to seek asylum in the 28-member bloc.
An investigation into EU contracts by Politiken and Danwatch (Denmark) in partnership with the European Investigative Collaborations (EIC) reveals that EU has supplied Turkey with 83 million Euro in armoured military vehicles and surveillance equipment for what witnesses say is aggressive patrolling of the borders.
These deals also risk the EU being complicit in possible violations of the international rights of refugees.
Via Deutsche Welle – A clampdown on Europe’s eastern borders and the Aegean Sea has forced migrants to seek different — and more dangerous — routes to the continent. Hunters and fishermen find their bodies, reports Anthee Carassava.
Its endless swathes of sensational sand dunes, swamps and reed beds have made it an attractive crossing for destitute refugees. In fact, since the European Union and Turkey struck a deal that has helped plug the most popular migration route to the Continent — the Aegean Sea — the nearly 200-kilometer (124 mile) Evros River has seen refugee flows surge.
Via Reuters – Sixteen people, including at least five children, drowned on Saturday when the small boat they on capsized in the Aegean Sea, Greek coast guard officials said.
The incident occurred off Greece’s Agathonisi island, which is close to the Turkish coast. The nationality of the victims was not immediately known. Continue reading At least 16 dead as migrant boat sinks off Greek island
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 Ekathimerini – 17.03.2018: Greece’s coast guard said on Saturday the bodies of 14 people have been recovered from the sea off a Greek island in the eastern Aegean following the sinking of a suspected migrant smuggling boat. Continue reading At least 14 dead in migrant boat sinking off Agathonisi