The deal brokered by the European Union with Ankara to provide US$3.35 billion to the Turkish Government is intended to help the country cope with the humanitarian crisis within its own borders, helping to stem the flow of refugees flooding into Europe.
China: Congress Should Reform Rights-Abusing Laws https://t.co/mul2Nu9jPe— Human Rights Watch (@hrw) 3 March 2016
However, diplomatic sources say the planned summit on March 7 to discuss the implementation of the plan is unlikely to reach any solid conclusion, throwing into chaos the entire EU approach to the refugee crisis amid disagreements over how to tackle the issue.
Campaign group Human Rights Watch has said the EU is wrong to designate Turkey as a "safe" country — for the purposes of asylum — because it has failed to provide sufficient protection for refugees and has forced some to return to war-torn Syria.
Judith Sunderland, acting deputy director for the Europe and Central Asia Division of Human Rights Watch said:
"EU leaders are in a panic to stop refugee flows before spring, and they seem willing to throw human rights overboard in the process. It is naked self-interest and wishful thinking to say Turkey is a safe country of asylum — it is not, and this deal could cause much more harm than good."
The EU is eager for Turkey to crack down on boat departures from its coastline; an average of 2,500 people have made the crossing every day since the deal was struck. The US$3.35 billion is intended to be used to improve access to health care, education, and other basic services for more than 2 million Syrian refugees already in Turkey.
"Improving capacity in countries like Turkey to provide effective protection to refugees is a laudable long-term goal, but it's no substitute for sharing responsibility for fairly processing and humanely hosting asylum seekers in the midst of a global displacement crisis," Sunderland said.
The news comes as EU Commissioner for migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos admitted — ahead of the March 7 summit — that "it is more than time for quick and substantial actions" after the failure of the EU-Turkey deal to set the flow of migrants into Europe.
Avramopoulos said: "We need to see the flows [of migrants] from Turkey go drastically down soon. The EU is committed to supporting Turkey. The summit on Monday with Turkey will be decisive and concrete steps need to be taken to stem the flows from Turkey to Greece, step up returns and readmissions, and fight the ugly smuggling business.
"We are at a critical moment. The EU was built on solidarity and resilience. It is precisely in testing times like this that we should rely on that solidarity and resilience and deeper mutual trust because that is the only way to move ahead," Avramopoulos told a press conference in Brussels Friday.