Amnesty: Turkey forcibly returning refugees to Syria

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Turkey has forcibly returned hundreds of Syrian refugees to their homeland since mid-January, Amnesty International (AI) has said, pointing out that this practice exposes “fatal flaws” in an agreement between Turk and the EU.

the AI report states that around 100 Syrians who often have not registered in Turkey are expelled from Turkey each day, according to data compiled from its research on the Turkish-Syrian.

The report comes as a deal envisaging the return of Syrian refugees from Europe to Turkey is kicks in on April 4, with Greece getting ready to return the first batch of refugees to Turkey from Greece. Rights groups, such as AI, question whether Turkey is a safe country for the refugees.

EU leaders recently approved the controversial deal with Turkey intended to halt illegal migration flows to Europe in return for financial and political rewards for Ankara, such as visa liberalization and 3 billion euros towards the funding of the Syrian refugees in Turkey.

“In their desperation to seal their borders, EU leaders have wilfully ignored the simplest of facts: Turkey is not a safe country for Syrian refugees and is getting less safe by the day,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.

“Far from pressuring Turkey to improve the protection it offers Syrian refugees, the EU is in fact incentivizing the opposite” he added. “Having witnessed the creation of Fortress Europe, we are now seeing the copycat construction of Fortress Turkey.”

AI tweeted on Thursday that it would prove, on Friday that Turkey is not a country fit for refugees to return to from Europe.

In earlier stages of the Syrian civil war, Syrians who held passports were able to cross at regular border gates and even those who entered illegally could register with the authorities. Now only those needing urgent medical care are allowed to enter and there are an estimated 200,000 displaced Syrians within 20 kilometers of Turkey’s border.

Tightened border restrictions and new visa requirements for Syrians, the organization said, have also pushed Syrians into the arms of smugglers who charge an average of $1,000 per crossing.

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