Turkey has been forcibly returning up to 100 refugees to Syria per day since mid-January, Amnesty International (AI) reported April 1. In addition to Turkish authorities rounding up refugees in migrant camps near the border, AI has also alleged that some migrants attempting to register in Turkey were, instead, removed back to Syria. The report criticized the recent migrant deal between Turkey and the EU, expressing concern over the possible future of the refugees to be sent back to Turkey after arriving in Greece. "If the agreement proceeds as planned, there is a very real risk that some of those the EU sends back to Turkey will suffer the same fate" AI said. If true, the allegations are illegal under not only international law, but the laws of the EU, and Turkey itself.
In March EU leaders agreed to a deal with Turkey to stem migrant flows, particularly of Syrian refugees, to Europe in return for financial and political incentive to Ankara. Under the terms of the deal, all migrants crossing the Aegean into Greece would be sent back to Turkey, effectively turning the country into the region's "migrant holding center." In return for receiving the migrants, the EU is promising to speed disbursement of €3 billion to Turkey, while offering an additional €3 billion by 2018 contingent upon creation of plans qualifying for EU assistance. Also that month, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, expressed concern that the then-proposed migrant exchange program is possibly illegal. AI also demonstrated concern over the deal, calling it "an alarmingly short-sighted and inhumane attitude to handling this crisis."
From Jurist, April 1. Used with permission.
See our feature, "Refugees Defy Crackdown in Turkey"