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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

HRW: EU Summit aims to shift refugee burden back to neighbors, close EU doors the refugees.


EU Summit aims to shift refugee burden back to neighbors, close EU doors the refugees. (HRW).

A European Union migration meeting set for October 8, 2015, looks set to focus yet again on shifting the EU governments' responsibilities toward refugees and asylum seekers to their neighbors, Human Rights Watch said today.

The October 8 High Level Conference on the Eastern Mediterranean-Western Balkans route is to include interior and foreign ministers from the EU member states, and Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan. The stated aim of the meeting is to “increase solidarity with those bearing the brunt of refugee flows from Syria” and ensure “an orderly management of refugee and migration flows along the route.”

The meeting comes amid growing concern that the EU wants to shift responsibility for asylum seekers to the Western Balkans and Turkey. A draft EU-Turkey Action Plan published on October 6 includes, “preventing uncontrolled migratory flows from Turkey to the EU” as a core objective. Hungary has already designated Serbia a safe third country and has begun summarily returning asylum seekers there.

The draft EU-Turkey Action Plan includes a series of measures aimed at, “Prevent[ing] further arrivals of irregular migrants to Turkey and irregular departures of refugees and migrants from Turkey to the EU.” This would be achieved through combating smuggling and increased border enforcement cooperation with EU member states Greece and Bulgaria, among other measures. The plan also includes much-needed assistance to Turkey to support its hosting of Syrian and Iraqi refugees and intensified search-and-rescue operations at sea.

The Action Plan call to prevent arrivals of irregular migrants to Turkey could easily be interpreted as a signal that the EU would be willing to look the other way as Turkey prevents Syrians and Iraqis from crossing its border to seek asylum, so long as Turkey cooperates to stem the flow of asylum seekers into the EU,” said Benjamin Ward, deputy Europe and Central Asia division director at Human Rights Watch.

A draft EU-Turkey Action Plan published on October 6 includes, “preventing uncontrolled migratory flows from Turkey to the EU” as a core objective. Hungary has already designated Serbia a safe third country and has begun summarily returning asylum seekers there.

While increasing aid to Turkey is much needed, any EU plans to turn Turkey, Serbia, and Macedonia into dumping grounds for asylum seekers would be deeply misguided and could put lives at risk,” Ward said.

“There’s a lot the EU can do to help Turkey and the Western Balkans bring their asylum systems and reception conditions in line with international standards, but those improvements need to be made before they can be expected to take on more responsibility for asylum seekers.” Read the full story here.

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