The European Union (EU) has been accused of “complicity” in the illegal deportation of migrants back to Syria and Iraq, following the recently-brokered EU-Turkey deal to reduce the flow of migrants into Europe.
A report published by Amnesty International claims migrants who reached Turkey have since been forced back into dangerous war zones, even into the hands of armed groups, and alleges that EU money pays for the operations, reports The Telegraph. The charity warns that the EU’s failure to address human rights abuses in Turkey is “reckless” while giving its government billions of euros.
The Turkish government rejects the accusations, saying it “categorically denied” any Syrian refugee in Turkey had been forced to return to areas of conflict.
Amnesty had it confirmed by EU officials in Ankara, the capital of Turkey, that six EU-funded open reception centres referred to in last month’s pre-accession programme action plan “will actually be detention centres” from which the charity says migrants are unlawfully pressured to return to dangerous hotspots in Syria and Iraq.
The charity’s report says that since September, Turkish authorities have rounded up “possibly hundreds” of migrants onto buses and transported them to detention centres. Some have told Amnesty of detention for up to two months without explanation, legal justification or any external contact in a camp in Düziçi in Osmaniye province, or in the Erzurum removal centre where labels attached to beds and cupboards advertise EU funding .
A 40-year-old Syrian said he had been chained by his hands and legs, adding that “you feel like a slave, like you are not a human being.”
Amnesty International’s John Dalhuisen said: “It is shocking that EU money is being used to fund an unlawful detention and return programme.
“The EU must ensure that its funding and migration cooperation with Turkey promotes rather than undermines the rights of refugees and migrants.”
Last month, the EU agreed to pay Turkey €3 billion towards the cost of dealing with Syrian migrants in return for accelerated talks for Turkey to join the bloc.
Today European leaders will be assessing migration data presented by Xavier Bettel, president of Luxembourg, to decide whether Turkey has done to receive the money.