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Friday 9 December 2016

EU urged to halt 'illegal, reckless' refugee returns to Turkey

Published 03/06/2016 | 01:31

Migrants and refugees arrive at Psalidi near Kos Town, Kos, Greece
Migrants and refugees arrive at Psalidi near Kos Town, Kos, Greece

Amnesty International has urged the European Union to halt plans to return asylum-seekers to Turkey.

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A 35-page briefing by t he London-based rights group said the EU-Turkey deal to curb irregular migration was "illegal" and "reckless".

Turkey is hosting three million refugees, including 2.75 million Syrians, and expected to receive more as part of the deal.

Under the agreement, irregular migrants who arrived to the Greek islands from Turkey after March 20 will be sent back to Turkey.

The EU, in turn, will resettle one Syrian refugee from Turkey to the bloc for each Syrian that Greece returns to Turkey.

Turkey also stands to receive up to six billion euros (£4.6bn), visa-free travel and fast track negotiations on EU accession.

But Amnesty says the deal is unlawful because asylum-seekers do not access "effective protection" in Turkey.

It says Turkey lacks the capacity to process asylum applications and falls short on key criteria to be deemed a "safe third country".

John Dalhuisen, Amnesty's director for Europe and Central Asia, said: "In its relentless efforts to prevent irregular migrants to Europe, the EU has wilfully misrepresented what is actually happening on the ground in Turkey."

Turkey, the group says, does not accord full refugee status, and most refugees do not receive government support.

Amnesty also repeated its assertion that Syrians in Turkey are at risk of being forcibly sent back to their war-torn nation.

Turkish officials have rejected previous Amnesty reports on the issue of forced returns.

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