EU Turkey pact and the fate of Syrian refugees!

-Dr. Abdul Ruff
_______

Refugee crisis

The ongoing NATO terror war led by the Pentagon has at least to negative consequences: one, acceleration of climatic change though deadly environmental pollution and, two, ever increasing number of hapless refugees driven out of the occupied cum attacked Arab nations.

Syria in the Middle East has generated refugee crisis although the NATO did not invaded that nation on the usual fictitious pretexts like searching for WMD as it happened in Iraq. People of Syria predominantly of Sunni sect led by the opposition want a change in the government being run by a Shi’ite Al-Bashar Assad for years without facing any democratic election in order to get popular mandate necessary to rule. The Assad military has ruthlessly attacked the protestors, leading to a civil war that the regime could not control

With the arrival of Russian forces in Syria, targeting the Syrians, the refugee crisis has escalated as the refugees flow increased to flow into EU nations. Deeply worried, even more terrorized than US sponsored terror wars, European Union has decided to strike a refugee deal with Turkey to send the refugees from other European states to Turkey, the only Muslim nation in European continent.

Agreement

The European Union-Turkey agreement over Syrian refugees that came into effect on March 20 is being implemented with EU sending back the Syrian refugees back to Turkey. This agreement will affect 50,000 migrants and refugees stranded in EU after it closed its border for further intake.

At the heart of the deal between the EU and Turkey is a controversial refugee exchange program. Under the plan, Syrian refugees on the Greek islands would be returned to Turkey, while European countries would take asylum seekers currently living in Turkey. Asylum seekers should only be returned to other states if there was guarantees that that they would not then be sent back to the place they had fled. The country of return also had to ensure asylum seekers had access to work, healthcare, education and social assistance.

Under the scheme agreed with the EU last month, one Syrian refugee will be settled in Europe legally in return for every migrant taken back by Turkey from EU member Greece, which faced the biggest influx in recent months. All irregular migrants who have landed on the Greek islands since March 20 face being sent back to Turkey ─ although the deal calls for each case to be examined individually.

Their legal transfers under an agreement made between Turkey and the EU last month took place as Greece officially began to return migrants and refugees to Turkey under the deal that has run into strong criticism from rights groups. Under the agreement, all “irregular migrants” arriving in Greece from Turkey since 20 March face being sent back. Each case is meant to be examined individually. For every Syrian refugee returned, another Syrian refugee will theoretically be resettled from Turkey to the EU, with numbers capped at 72,000.

Factually, the implementation of EU’s plan to limit the amount of migration to Europe has begun as the first set of migrants and refugees are being deported to Turkey. The plan saw protest against deportations in the island of Chios. The agreement that came into effect on March 20 will see 4,000 migrants and refugees being detained on Greek islands. A total of 135 migrants were escorted onto small boats by officers from the EU border protection agency, Frontex. Despite receiving criticism from the human rights group, EU will continue to implement the plan and send the refugees to Turkish coast.

Implementation

The arrivals of Syrian refugees were part of Finland’s quota of 750 refugees it has agreed with the EU to accept this year. In December, the government decided to focus on helping Syrian refugees but Interior Ministry officials said it was not clear how many of the annual quota would be made up of Syrian refugees.

The number of Syrians arriving in Germany and Finland from Turkey – 43 – does not tally with the two to three Syrians understood to have been returned from Greece to Turkey, suggesting that the twin operations are more a carefully coordinated attempt by the EU to demonstrate that its pact with Ankara is working than a precise enacting of the plan. Brussels has also agreed to provide the Turkish government with money to cover the costs of looking after those who have fled the civil war in Syria and have taken refuge in Turkey.

On the other hand, the first refugees to be brought into the EU under a migrant-exchange deal with Turkey have arrived in Germany and Finland. Two planes, each carrying 16 Syrian refugees, arrived from Istanbul in the northern German city of Hanover, according to the federal refugee office. They were taken by bus to a reception camp about 90 miles away in Friedland, near Göttingen. Eleven more Syrians from three families, meanwhile, arrived in Finland by plane directly from Turkey. Finland’s immigration officials say that 11 Syrian refugees have arrived as part of a European Union deal with Turkey to curb illegal migration. Most of the newcomers to Germany were young families with children, but no details of their identities were released. The 32 are believed to be from three separate families. German authorities asked journalists to respect their privacy. Secrecy is maintained since there is also a hidden agenda.

Germany

Germany leads EU and now represents the new European nation in the UNSC almost as a permanent member. German observers are closely following the progress of the pact, not least the impact it will have on Merkel’s refugee policy, which has been widely criticised both at home and abroad. Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, is still under intense domestic pressure to ensure that there is no repeat of the situation where 1.1 million migrants and refugees arrived in Germany last year. Tens of thousands have already arrived this year. With the Turkey deal, Angela Merkel is operating an active refugee-crisis policy for the first time since the open-borders policy in September. She is eager to see the plan worked, sending out the right signal ‘to find legal ways to get to Europe’

Germany last year let in a record 1.1 migrants and refugees but Chancellor Angela Merkel has come under intense pressure to stem the flow. German officials have said they expect other EU member states to begin taking in refugees under the pact with Turkey.

Further, Germany profited from the recent closure of the Balkan route, because fewer refugees were able to enter Germany, Merkel has obliged the other 27 EU nations to take part in the course of action with Turkey. And in so doing she carries the main responsibility for the success or failure of this operation.

Refugee crisis

Having got Turkey agree for the refugee plan, now Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European commission, insisted that sending refugees back to Turkey was legal and in line with the Geneva convention. Citing specific paragraphs in the EU’s asylum procedure directive, he said Greece had decided Turkey was “a safe country”, he said, the returns policy was legal.

Meanwhile, refugees and migrants protesting Europe’s closed borders have closed a second section of Greece’s highway heading to the official border crossing with Macedonia, blocking all road traffic in both directions. The blockade was being done near the Greek village of Idomeni, where a sprawling refugee camp of thousands developed in recent months. The area had been a pedestrian crossing for migrants and refugees until Macedonian authorities restricted the flow, and then closed it completely last month. Hundreds of refugees and migrants were continuing to block trucks from using another section of the highway further south near the town of Polykastro, where another impromptu refugee camp has sprung up at a highway gas station.

Refugees and migrants protesting Europe’s closed borders have closed a second section of Greece’s highway heading to the official border crossing with Macedonia, blocking all road traffic in both directions. Greek authorities said about 100 people blocked the highway near the Evzones border crossing. The blockade was being done near the Greek village of Idomeni, where a sprawling refugee camp of thousands developed in recent months. The area had been a pedestrian crossing for migrants and refugees until Macedonian authorities restricted the flow, and then closed it completely last month.

Greek authorities say the 202 migrants and refugees in Greek islands who had not applied for asylum in Greece and were returned to Turkey. They included people from several countries including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Congo. The Greek civil protection ministry said 136 people — 135 men and one woman — were returned from the island of Lesbos. They included 124 people from Pakistan, three from Bangladesh, one from Iraq, two from India, four from Sri Lanka and two Syrians.

Critique

A senior UN official says he is very concerned that a hasty EU deal with Turkey could leave Syrian refugees unprotected and at risk of being sent back to a war zone, without spelling out the refugee protection safeguards under international law.

The number of refugees that Europe would take would depend on the number of refugees prepared to risk their lives through other means – and that is staring at a moral abyss. EU leaders have hailed the one-for-one plan as a breakthrough that would deter Syrians from making dangerous journeys across the Aegean Sea.

Human rights organisations have been highly critical of the EU plans for refugee control, warning that individuals may be prevented from claiming asylum under the scheme. The deportation is seen as a symbolic kick off of a dangerous practice. Those migrants who did not apply for asylum or had their applications declared inadmissible were deported. Moreover, no details of the nationality status of migrants being deported were given out.

The UNHCR called on Europe to ensure safeguards for refugees being returned to the Middle East at an EU summit shortly. Regional director for Europe at the office of the UN high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR), said an EU commitment to resettle 20,000 refugees over two years, on a voluntary basis, remained “very low”. “The collective expulsion of foreigners is prohibited under the European convention of human rights,” he told a news briefing in Geneva.

Human rights groups are not convinced. Amnesty International has said it is absurd to describe Turkey as a safe third country, and that some Syrians have been returned to Syria and been shot at while trying to cross the Turkish border.

Human Rights Watch also said Turkey cannot be regarded as a safe country of asylum. “It is knowingly shortsighted for EU leaders to close their borders without considering the impact on Turkey’s borders with Syria,” said Bill Frelick, HRW’s refugee rights director.
According to the UNHCR, 31 out of Afghanistan’s 34 regions saw a surge in people fleeing conflict last year. The number of internally displaced Afghans has risen to a million people, up 78%. People often did not realize how many women and children were fleeing conflicts around the world.

The British foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, received a letter saying that Kurds fleeing Iraq, Syria and Turkey could face a “very dangerous situation” if they were forced to return to Turkey under the proposed EU deal. The increase in assaults by Turkish forces against the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK) has led to more Kurds trying to reach Europe. “I am concerned that Kurds will potentially be sent back to Turkey as a result of the proposals agreed between the EU and Turkey which will lead to a very dangerous situation for Kurdish people”.

Turkey

Apparently, Turkey is not being considered a safe country for refugees and the implementation of the EU agreement is just the beginning of a difficult time for refugee rights.

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Europe for turning back refugees on the first day that migrants were returned from Greece to Turkey. Speaking in Ankara, the president reproached Europe for not letting “these people into their countries” by raising razor wire fences. He asked: “Did we turn Syrians back? No, we didn’t, but they did.” However, Erdogan said Turkey had rescued 100,000 migrants from the Aegean Sea and spent $10 billion on Syrian refuges. Turkey, home to 2.7 million Syrian refugees, is a major departure point for Europe-bound migrants. The country has committed to crack down on smuggling in exchange for financial and political concessions from the EU. Greece began sending back migrants to Turkey in line with an EU deal to combat illegal migration.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called on police officers to show compassion as his country received the first Syrians turned back from Greece. Speaking at the 171st anniversary ceremony of the founding of the Turkish police force, Davutoglu urged police officers not to “distinguish them from our own citizens.” A first group of 202 migrants were ferried from the Greek islands to Turkey as part of a controversial European Union plan to curb migration to Europe. Davutoglu said will send some of the Syrian refugees from the camps in Turkey to Europe as the first Syrians were brought across the Aegean to Turkey.

Observation

The Syrian conflict was entering its sixth year, adding that Syrian refugees were facing increasingly difficult conditions in Jordan and Lebanon: 90% lives below the poverty line as they were unable to work and had run down all their savings. Afghans, who many European states do not deem to have legitimate asylum claims, also had urgent protection needs.

Refugee advocates question whether the agreement is legal and ethical, fearing individuals will be denied the right to claim asylum, conversely their right to live. Europe could take a lot more, but Europe is determined not to. Europe has tried to isolate the problem in Greece and further to collaborate with Greece in exporting the problem back to Turkey. If the great powers of the world got their act together they would actually be able to stop the conflict and negotiate proper terms in Syria, so the whole thing is really a condemnation of international policy and of what passes for world governance nowadays.

While the Syrian refugees continue to suffer in the worst manner, nobody seems to be living up to their legal responsibilities either between the European Union and Greece and Turkey, lots of international law and conventions are being violated by those governments. Many people are concerned of what they see as divisions within Europe. At this point obviously Greece is shouldering a lot of the burden, because it’s a country recovering apparently from its economic recession itself.

The controversial European Union-Turkey deal may not find a credible solution to the refugee crisis. Syria peace talks will go ahead with more urgency in essence to try to solve this issue and it certainly puts pressure on the European Union to deliver, but they are exporting the problem back to Turkey and Turkey is of course a key player in whatever solution emerges in Syria.

Syrian refugees in alien nations have got no sovereignty, no freedom, and no rights. They are treated like street dogs. They are now the refugees thanks to arrogance of President Assad who considers his life more important than Syria.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *