13:27 GMT24 January 2021
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    The European Union is sending refugees and asylum seekers to Turkey under "false pretenses", that's according to an Amnesty International briefing published Thursday. The briefing says that the EU must "immediately halt plans to return asylum seekers to Turkey" on the grounds that it isn't a safe country.

    At over 3 million people, Turkey currently hosts more refugees than any other country in the world, largely as a result of its controversial deal with the EU to take in huge numbers of asylum seekers fleeing from countries like Syria.

    The Amnesty briefing, entitled 'No Safe Refuge: Asylum-seekers and refugees denied effective protection in Turkey' says that refugees receive little to no financial support from Turkish authorities, leading to many sleeping rough as well as a widespread reliance on child labor.

    Amnesty International says that the European Union's response to the humanitarian crisis consists of "putting up fences, deploying more border guards, and striking dodgy deals with neighboring countries to keep people out."

    Sputnik spoke with Ana Shea — a researcher with Amnesty International — who wrote the briefing, and she said that Europe wasn't doing enough to fulfill its obligations to refugees fleeing from war torn countries in the Middle East:

    "Under international law, they are obliged to respect the right to claim asylum, so there's realpolitik but there's also international law. Let's look beyond Europe, to countries like Canada, which have taken tens of thousands of people in a very short amount of time, so what's lacking in this situation is not the ability or the funds to address the inequality and the responsibility. What's lacking is political will, and European leaders have to face up not only to their own populous, but also to international law."

    Responding to the argument that European Governments faced a great deal of political resistance internally regarding refugees, Shea insisted that "there is an appetite for welcoming refugees", and said mainstream opinion throughout Europe was not being properly reflected.

    "There are elements within each population that welcome refugees. An Amnesty International poll from a few weeks ago showed that leaders in Europe, and beyond, might be pandering to the wrong parts of their population."  

    Given the EU's track record with regards the refugee crisis — accepting only a tiny fraction of those fleeing into Europe — Amnesty's advice could well fall on deaf ears.

    However, Shea fears that such inaction could have disastrous and life threatening consequences, arguing that Turkey would be placed under further strain and more people would take to boats crossing the Mediterranean and subsequently, more people will drown. 

    "There's a humanitarian veneer over this deal, where the goal is to save lives, but that's not going to happen. People will take more dangerous routes. You can't stop the boats, you can change where they're leaving from but the [EU-Turkey refugee] deal is really a disaster for human rights on all levels."


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    hotspots, migrant crisis, asylum seekers, human rights, refugees, Amnesty International, Europe, Turkey
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