Amnesty International claims Turkey expels refugees back to Syria
On 1 April 2016, Amnesty International published an article on its website about last month’s EU – Turkey agreement on refugees, in which it is stipulated that Turkey will receive Syrian refugees from Greece and the EU will take Syrian refugees from Turkey for the each Syrian refugee returned.1 In the article it is claimed that Turkey is not a safe country for the refugees returning from Europe because Turkey rounds up and expels Syrian refugees back to Syria. It is also alleged that camps in Turkey are in abysmal conditions. The article was referred to by many news organs.2 It stated:
Turkish authorities have been rounding up and expelling groups of around 100 Syrian men, women and children to Syria on a near-daily basis since mid-January. (...) In their desperation to seal their borders, EU leaders have willfully ignored the simplest of facts: Turkey is not a safe country for Syrian refugees and is getting less safe by the day. (...) Turkey has returned several thousand refugees to Syria in the last seven to nine weeks. If the [EU-Turkey] 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. (…) There are currently around 200,000 displaced people within 20km of Turkey’s border. According to humanitarian aid groups as well as camp residents, conditions in camps close to the border are abysmal, without clean water or sanitation. A camp resident reported kidnappings for ransom among the dangers.
However, Turkey has maintained an open-door policy towards Syrian refugees since 2011. For more information please click here. Turkey registers all accepted refugees and gives all of them temporary protection. This status provides the refugees with non-refoulement which means that none of the refugees can be returned back to Syria.3 Through the temporary protection regulation, Turkey guarantees all Syrian refugees education free-of charge, as well as healthcare, security and other social rights. As of 15 January 2016, work permits were also granted for Syrian refugees that guarantees them to be paid at least the minimum wage.4
Currently, Turkey hosts 2.7 million Syrian refugees, which corresponds to more than half of the total number of the Syrian refugees (4.8 million) given in the regional overview by the UN Refugee Agency.5 Turkey has spent nearly $9 billion on Syrian refugees in temporary protection centers (camps), an amount 20 times more than what international aid agencies including the UN have spent.6 As Turkey’s Minister for EU Affairs Volkan Bozkir stated, the total amount that was spent on Syrian refugees reached $20 billion when Syrians outside the camps were included.7
While most of the Syrian refugees reside in cities all over Turkey, 272,000 of them are hosted in 26 camps in 10 different cities close to the Syrian border.8 All of the camps have schools, hospitals, security officers, sewage system, water-supply system, laundry rooms, TV, internet, grocery stores, sports areas, places of worship and kindergartens.9 The camps were visited by the European Council President Donald Tusk and different UN Commissioners, who all appreciated the situation of the camps and thanked Turkey. For more information please click here.
On 3 April 2016, Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a press statement on the issue and denied Amnesty’s allegations. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Turkey implements an open door policy within the frame of its international obligations and abides by the principle of non-refoulement. The statement also added “Turkey is the largest refugee-hosting country in the world. This is a clear indication that the principle of non-refoulement is scrupulously obeyed by Turkey.”10
- 1. https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2016/04/turkey-illegal-mass-retur...
- 2. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/02/world/europe/turkey-forcibly-returned-... http://time.com/4286839/turkey-refugees-deportation-european-union/ http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-35941947 http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/turkey-forcing-asylum-seekers-return-w... http://www.france24.com/en/20160401-amnesty-says-turkey-forcing-refugees... http://www.franceinfo.fr/fil-info/article/cet-accord-suppose-que-la-turq... https://www.rt.com/news/338326-greece-turkey-refugees-deported/
- 3. http://www.goc.gov.tr/files/_dokuman28.pdf
- 4. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-europe-migrants-turkey-idUSKCN0UP0QP20... http://www.unhcr.org/569ca19c6.html http://www.resmigazete.gov.tr/eskiler/2016/01/20160115-23.pdf
- 5. http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/country.php?id=224
- 6. https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/23873-turkey-spent-20-time...
- 7. https://twitter.com/volkan_bozkir/status/716566736426938368
- 8. https://www.afad.gov.tr/en/IcerikDetay1.aspx?IcerikID=848&ID=16
- 9. https://www.afad.gov.tr/Dokuman/TR/99-201406191271-syrian-guests.pdf
- 10. http://www.mfa.gov.tr/no_-83_-3-april-2016_-press-release-regarding-the-...