On Thursday, The Times newspaper reported, citing the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, that Turkish border guards had shot refugees attempting to escape the civil war in Syria. At least 16 migrants were killed, including three children, according to the newspaper.
"UNHCR is concerned about the reports but cannot ascertain the[ir] authenticity at this stage. We are seeking further information," Ariane Rummery, UNHCR spokeswoman on Iraq and Syria-related situations, including Egypt and Syrian refugees in Turkey, said.
Rummery added that UNHCR had already expressed concern about the lack of safeguards in place regarding the implementation of the EU-Turkey deal.
According to the rights group, all forced returns to Syria are illegal under Turkish, EU, as well as international law, especially in light of the fact that unaccompanied minors, pregnant women and sick people were targeted by such roundups.
In late March, Turkey and the European Union reached an agreement to put an end to the so-called Balkan route used by migrants to travel through Greece and Macedonia to wealthier EU states.
Under the deal, Turkey pledged to take back all illegal migrants who arrive in the European Union through its border and in their place send legal Syrian refugees to the bloc on a one-for-one basis.