Refugees not safe in Turkey

Submitted by AWL on 6 April, 2016 - 11:50 Author: Rosalind Robson

On Monday 4 April Greece began deporting migrants. After making a perilous journey across the Aegean sea, they are being sent back to Turkey.

Under a deal with and within the EU, and with the agreement of the Syriza government, all migrants who arrived in Greece prior to 30 March and deemed not in need of international protection are to be deported.

The first 500 deportees were mainly from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. But the deal is, of course, aimed at stemming the flow of Syrian refugees into Europe. Turkey is already a mass refugee camp for 2.7 million Syrians. But with a promise of €9 billion from the EU and the promise of more integration into Europe, Turkey has agreed to take more.

The EU has said it would take in one migrant for every migrant deported. But what will that really mean? Last year EU countries promised to resettle 160,000 Syrian refugees. So far only 9,000 have been accepted into the various countries which made that promise (it did not include the UK).

At the same time the borders between Turkey and Syria and between Greece and Macedonia have been closed. Refugees will end in makeshift camps, their lives on hold, children out of education, with only very basic services and reliant on charity, perhaps for years, but that is of no real concern to European leaders.

In Greece, so called "hotspot" registration centres have become closed centres, prisons for new arrivals. And 400 refugees are still arriving every day.

The deal rested on the idea tha Turkey was a safe country for refugees. But, according to Amnesty, Turkish authorities have been rounding up groups of Syrians on a near-daily basis since mid-January and returning them to Syria. Turkey has scaled back registering of refugees, something that is is necessary to access basic services.

The deal has provoked small protests in both Greece and Turkey, including protests by migrants at Idomeni, on the Greek-Macedonia border, demanding that the border be opened.