UN: EU migrant exchange plan possibly illegal

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, expressed concerns March 8 for a proposed migrant exchange program between the EU and Turkey. The Joint Action Plan (PDF), was proposed to decrease human smuggling along the shores of southern Europe and to help alleviate the massive influx of refugees hosted by Turkey. The most controversial aspect of the deal is the objective "to resettle, for every Syrian readmitted by Turkey from Greek islands, another Syrian from Turkey to the EU Member States."

Grandi said in his speech before the European Parliament, "I am deeply concerned about any arrangement that would involve the blanket return of anyone from one country to another without spelling out the refugee protection safeguards under international law." The High Commissioner spoke to the council shortly after it had met with the Prime Minister of Turkey, Ahmet Davutoglu to discuss the final steps of the exchange program. Amnesty International also demonstrated concern over the deal, calling it "an alarmingly short-sighted and inhumane attitude to handling this crisis."

From Jurist, March 9. Used with permission.

Note: Turkey claims to have taken in 2.7 million Syrian refugees. Syrians, for the first time, have become the largest refugee population under the mandate of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) The over 3 million Syrian refugees by the UNHCR count is only a fourth of the 12 million Syrians displaced—inside and outside their country.