Turkey unsafe country for asylum seekers: Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch (HRW) says Turkey is an unsafe country for asylum seekers, most of whom are fleeing war and terrorism in the Middle East.
“Reports by Amnesty International and local groups speak of arbitrary arrests of refugees and of ill-treatment in detention in Turkey, plus denial of legal representation or aid, making it impossible for them to challenge their detention and deportation,” the HRW said on Thursday.
The rights group noted that Ankara does not provide “effective protection” for refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, who account for 90 percent of all asylum seekers in Turkey.
Senior officials from the European Union and Turkey will meet in Brussels on Monday to discuss the implementation of a joint action plan that the EU hopes will limit the influx of asylum seekers from Turkey to Greece.
The EU has offered Ankara three billion euros (USD 3.3 billion) in return for its attempts to stem the flow of hundreds of thousands of refugees arriving in the continent via Turkey.
“EU leaders are in a panic to stop refugee flows before spring, and they seem willing to throw human rights overboard in the process,” said Judith Sunderland, acting deputy director for the Europe and Central Asia division of the HRW.
“It is naked self-interest and wishful thinking to say Turkey is a safe country of asylum – it is not, and this deal could cause much more harm than good,” she added.
On Thursday, European Council President Donald Tusk said it was up to Ankara to decide what extra action it could take to reduce the inflow of refugees into Europe.
Many in Europe favor a mechanism that would enable the asylum seekers’ “fast and large-scale” return to Turkey, he said at a joint press conference with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, suggesting that the country had better act promptly.
Europe is facing an unprecedented influx of refugees. Over 131,000 asylum seekers have reached Europe via the Mediterranean Sea so far this year, more than the total number recorded in the first half of 2015, according to the latest figures released by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Many blame some Western countries’ support for militants operating in the Middle East as the main reason behind the refugee influx into Europe.