Sunday

17th Feb 2019

EU weighs taking refugees directly from Turkey

The EU is considering taking refugees directly from Turkey, on condition that Ankara delivers on promises and significantly slows the flow of people seeking international protection in Europe.

The EU Commission, along with its plans to set up a border and coast guard agency, unveiled a recommendation on Tuesday (15 December) which calls on member states to take in people displaced by the Syrian war, not just Syrian nationals, directly from Turkish camps.

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The commission is urging member states to volunteer to take part in the scheme on condition that the flow of people into Europe via Turkey is successfully reduced.

The countries would take people on a recommendation by the UNHCR following a referral by Turkey, after identity, security, and health checks based on common criteria. The procedure before arrivals start should take no more than six months.

The final decision on admission would be taken by the member state.

“With this we create a legal, organised way, to avoid unorganised, dangerous, massive flows,” Dimitris Avramopoulos, commissioner for migration told press in Strasbourg.

The proposal is a side product of the EU-Turkey agreement at the end of November, in which Turkey promised to crack down on smuggler networks, to integrate refugees, and to slow the flow of migrants in exchange for a €3 billion EU aid fund and political concessions, such as reviving the EU accession process and visa-free travel.

The lack of numerical targets most likely comes as a disappointment for Turkey, which is now the largest single refugee hosting country in the world.

Turkey is sheltering over 2 million people, although just 10 percent of them are in the 25 camps, according to the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Authority.

Germany has been pushing for a resettlement program, and to convince fellow member states to shelter more asylum seekers.

Details of the scheme will have to be hammered out on a political level by member states, with leaders gathering in Brussels for an EU summit on Thursday.

German chancellor Angela Merkel will also meet with Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Thursday.

Stop

There is little appetite among member states to take in more people without a significant drop in flows from Turkey to the EU via Greece.

“Irregular influx must stopped before resettlement can start,” a diplomatic source said, adding that Turkey has not done enough to contain the migration flows.

Commission officials arguing that the program would be reviewed to see if Turkey is living up to expectations.

“The scheme might be suspended if it became clear that Turkey was not meeting its obligation in controlling irregular migration flows into the EU,” said an EU source.

In July, member states agreed to resettle 20,000 people in need of international protection over a two year period.

To this day, the commission has received confirmation that 483 persons have been resettled.

If member states agree on the new scheme, EU countries are urged to take refugees from Lebanon and Jordan under the July agreement.

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