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Human Rights Watch Says Turkey Unsafe for Refugee Returns

ATHENS – Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that it’s unsafe for Greece to return to Turkey refugees denied asylum as is supposed to be done under an essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal with the European Union.

HRW said there is an increasingly hostile environment in Turkey and hundreds of deportations from Turkey to Syria of refugees who are supposed to be contained in Turkey.

The group urged the European Commission to push Greece to repeal the Joint Ministerial Decision deeming Turkey a safe third country for main countries of origin so they can’t be sent back there.

HRS said that, “Turkish authorities arbitrarily arrested, detained, and deported hundreds of Syrian refugee men and boys to Syria between February and July 2022 in violation of international directives.

“Although Turkey provided temporary protection to 3.6 million Syrian refugees, it now looks like Turkey is trying to make northern Syria a refugee dumping ground,” the group added.

Turkey has allowed human traffickers to keep sending them without sanctions from the EU while accusing Greece of pushbacks, which the New Democracy government has denied.

Turkey, said HRW, has been moving towards a normalization of relations with the Syrian regime whose murderous assaults drove out millions fleeing for their lives, hoping to get into the EU before the borders were closed.

That left most using Turkey as a jumping-off point to get to Greece and seek asylum but the government is trying to keep them out, including extending a border wall on the border along the Evros River.

In response to HRW, Turkey’s Ministry of Interior denied the allegations and said that, “A foreigner is only deported to a safe country of origin or a safe third country. Syria is one of the countries where the principle of non-refoulement is already in place and all foreigners who return to this country do so voluntarily. Accordingly, the allegation that Syrians were forcibly and unlawfully deported to Syria does not reflect the truth.”

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