Sunday, 3 April 2016

The EU-Turkey deal on refugees is shameful

In the years after 1945, following two world wars and the Holocaust, the world community agreed on a new framework of rules and institutions to try and prevent such events in the future - “Never Again”. 

The United Nations was set up. There was the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And, there was the Magna Carta of modern law on refugees - the 1951 Refugee Convention. 

The Convention set down the fundamental definition of a refugee as someone who "owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted….is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.” It prescribed that refugees were not to be sent back to countries where they face death or persecution.

In the years since 1951, the essential principles of the Convention have been generally accepted in Western countries. Until the current refugee crisis.

Now the provisions of the Convention which had been intended to be absolute are treated as if they are relative. In 1951, the world decided that those fleeing for their lives would be granted asylum. In 2016, we hear - “We can’t, because….” “We would, but…”

Tomorrow, Monday 4 April 2016, under an agreement made between the EU and Turkey, some men, women and children - many who fled the hell created in Syria by Assad and IS - will be deported, by force if necessary, from Greece to Turkey. 

It is highly doubtful that the case of each person seeking asylum has been considered individually as required by law.

Fundamental to the deal is that the EU is designating Turkey as a “safe third country”. The EU leaders must, surely, know that this is not true. They are being wilfully blind. 

According to Amnesty International, large groups of Syrians have recently been deported from Turkey back to Syria. 

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has reported that sixteen refugees including three children have been shot dead by Turkish border guards as they fled for their lives from Syria.

John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director  for Europe and Central Asia has said - “Turkey is not a safe country for Syrian refugees and is getting less safe by the day.”

Meanwhile, lawyers and journalists in Turkey, who speak up on human rights issues are facing arrest.

Although there are some provisions - at some point - for a limited number of refugees, currently in refugee camps in Turkey to come to the EU, the essential deal that has been struck is that, in exchange for billions of Euros, Turkey takes refugees from Greece. European politicians want to wash their hands of the problem. They want the refugees out of sight, so they can then be out of mind.

There is little thought for the desperate, wretched individuals involved, who have sought asylum, safety in Europe.

Tomorrow is a dark day for Europe. The EU has struck a shameful deal with Turkey.


  1. A shameful day indeed, Mr London. Poor little Lebanon has shown more humanity than the entirety of the rest of the world, seeing its population increase by 50%. For Turkey, it's just another day at the office, a means of jumping the queue to join the EU, a nonsensical and cynical trade-off that we will all end up regretting. Where is the ECHR when an intervention would be righteous and warranted?

  2. Kilburn Korbynista3 April 2016 at 15:06

    >>the hell created in Syria by Assad and IS

    We mustn't forget our own role in prolonging the hell that is making people need to flee - as well as Assad and IS, many other armed groups are in the field, including Al Qaeda, funded by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, and actively aided and abetted by the West. The Syrians are just collateral damage in a three or four sided proxy war between US/EU/Saudi Arabia, Iran and Russia (and Turkey).

    The war is at a bloody stalemate but the UK is in effect working at the diplomatic level to prolong it, by not accepting reasonable conditions for ending it.