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UN rapporteur raps EU-Turkey deal to stop refugees

16 May 2016 14:57



The United Nations special rapporteur on the human rights of refugees, has strongly denounced a recently signed agreement between the European Union and Turkey over curbing the flow of asylum seekers to Europe.

Speaking in the Greek capital Athens, François Crepeau said the March agreement between the EU and Turkey to send back refugees reaching Europe required “much stronger legal instruments to ensure legal accountability.”

The UN envoy also criticized the EU response to the refugee crisis, saying the 28-nation bloc lacks vision and is operating under legal ambiguity. Crepeau further said that the EU approach to the refugee crisis lacks legal clarity and promotes the detention of newly arrived refugees in Greece.

Athens has been detaining refugees and sending many back to Turkey under a deal signed earlier this year.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the UN envoy expressed concern that children were among those detained, and urged an immediate change in policy.

Under the deal, Turkey has committed to taking back all the asylum seekers and refugees, who had used the Aegean Sea to illegally reach Greece.

In return, Ankara was promised financial aid, the acceleration of visa liberalization talks and progress in its EU membership negotiations.

Granting visa waiver to Turkey, a country of 75 million, is highly controversial among EU states where some fear it would open the way for more refugees to the bloc already struggling with its worst migration crisis in decades.

Last year, more than 1.1 million refugees entered Europe through Turkey and Greece and then made their way through the Balkans to Germany and other northern member states of the bloc.

Children cover their faces to protect themselves from dust amid strong winds at a makeshift camp for refugees and asylum-seekers at the Greek-Macedonian border near the village of Idomeni on April 20, 2016. (AFP photo)

Meanwhile, a senior German politician says Chancellor Angela Merkel has made the EU very dependent on Turkey in dealing with the refugee crisis, accusing her of having exposed the bloc to blackmail by Ankara.

Carsten Schneider, the deputy chairman of the Social Democrats (SPD), Merkel’s junior coalition partner, accused the chancellor of making Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan central to her refugee policy.

He warned that if Erdogan stopped cooperating, “the extent of Germany’s isolation in Europe will become clear again.”

Europe is now concerned that the continent would face another refugee influx after Erdogan warned that Turkey would allow the refugees to enter Europe if it failed to meet its commitments.

Hundreds of thousands of refugees are still fleeing conflict-ridden zones in Africa and the Middle East, particularly Syria.

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