Turkey is illegally forcing refugees back to Syria

The legitimacy of the EU-Turkey deal is already in tatters, as Amnesty reports asylum-seekers are being forcibly returned to Syria


Amnesty International researchers in southern Turkey have found that Syrian men, women and children are being rounded up and expelled from Turkey.

This reinforces widespread claims that the EU’s refugee deal with Turkey breaches international law, since refugees in Turkey are subject to forcible return and human rights abuses.

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

The deal, finalised last month, institutes a one-for-one swap system, whereby all asylum-seekers arriving by sea in Greece will be returned to Turkey. For each person returned, the EU will admit another from official refugee camps in Turkey, up to a cap of 54,000.

EU officials hope that returns will begin in the coming days, but already human rights organisations and activists have slammed the agreement.

Along with evidence of forced return, which is illegal under EU, Turkish and international law, Amnesty believes that Turkish officials are not registering all Syrian refugees in the southern border provinces. Without registration, refugees have no access to basic services.

Earlier in the week, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also alleged that at least 16 Syrians, including three children, have been shot and killed by Turkish forces near the border.

‘It is clear where this is all heading,’ Dalhuisen says. ‘Having witnessed the creation of Fortress Europe, we are now seeing the copy-cat construction of Fortress Turkey.’

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.