Monday

24th Jul 2017

Turkey struggling to cope with refugees

Host to the world’s largest refugee population, Turkey is struggling to meet its international obligations and secure dignified living conditions for the more than 3 million people that fled to the country.

In a report published on Wednesday (17 August), the Council of Europe’s special representative on migration and refugees, Tomas Bocek, praised Turkey for its efforts to help people displaced by conflicts in neighbouring states.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

But the report by the Czech official, who visited Turkey in May and June on a fact-finding mission, raises doubts whether Turkey can cope with the challenge.

Only a fraction of refugees - an estimated 20 percent - have been able to find shelter in dedicated camps and only one of the six EU-funded reception camps can be used as intended. It can host up to 750 people.

”For many refugees and asylum-seekers outside the camps, it is a struggle to survive. Harsh living conditions may be a very important push factor for those who decide to leave for other Council of Europe member States”, Bocek noted.

Child labour is ”exploding”, he added. The number of cases of child brides is also on the rise as families struggle to feed their daughters and keep them safe from sexual abuse - marriage is seen as a way of securing the child’s honour. Some also sell their daughters to older men, while few children enrol in school.

”There is not much time left to ensure that the generation of refugee and migrant children currently in Turkey is not lost,” Bocek said.

”The absence of adequate education prospects aggravates the trauma resulting from their displacement and also increases the risk of alienation and disaffection; this could lead some into criminality or extremism.”

The Council of Europe representative was alarmed that the backlog of pending registration requests has grown to around 100,000. The situation of unregistered refugees is particularly harsh and ”needs to be fixed urgently”, he noted. Many public workers also did not know their legal obligations vis-a-vis refugees and asylum seekers and that the new legislation giving refugees and asylum seekers work permits has so far failed to fulfil its promise of giving them access to the labour market.

Alarmingly, Bocek said it appeared that Turkey had closed its border with Syria, raising concerns regarding Turkey’s compliance with the principle of non-refoulement. Bocek was also informed about Syrians being expelled in large groups.

EU-Turkey deal

The new report raised questions over the EU-Turkey migration deal.

Turkey has committed to the EU to provide those in need of international protection with access to the relevant procedures. It has detained Syrian refugees returned from Greece, which according to Bocek seemed to lack a legal basis.

Bocek noted that 13 people were returned despite having filed an asylum claim in Greece.

”It is unclear whether what occurred in the case of these 13 individuals was an isolated error or part of a more widespread practice,” he said.

The European Commission said it was unable to comment on the issues on Wednesday because it was still consulting Bocek's text.

Meanwhile, the Council of Europe voiced added concern about the low level of resettlements to the EU, which was part of the Turkey deal.

”Turkey cannot be expected to shoulder the burden of accommodating and integrating such high number of refugees and asylum-seekers alone,” Bocek wrote.

The Commission’s latest data show that only a thousand - out of a planed 100,000 - Syrians have been relocated from Turkey to the EU.

”Need delivery on all fronts by all parties,” EU commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos tweeted on Wednesday.

Turkey threatens to scrap migrant deal with EU, again

Ankara has once again threatened to back away from a migrant deal with the EU unless visa waivers for Turks are lifted. Over 1,000 have crossed from Turkey to the Greek islands since the military coup attempt on 15 July.

'I am alive but dead inside'

Syria produces more refugees than any other country, with most seeking protection in Turkey, which hosts more refugees than anyone else.

Turkey recalls ambassador from Austria

Ankara reproaches Vienna for allowing a PKK demonstration but not anti-coup rallies. But the Austrian police said there is no ban on Turkish demonstrations.

Turkey threatens to scrap refugee deal, again

Two Turkish ministers said that Ankara would end the agreement to reduce the number of migrants coming to Europe if it does not get visa-free travel to the EU.

Italy's 'nuclear option' on migrants unravels

Media has reported that Italy may issue visas to migrants to allow them to travel further north. But the plan is unlikely to work due to EU rules underpinning such decisions.

Austria readies for migrant border surge

Foreign ministers in Brussels agreed to toughen up measures against Libyan migrant smugglers amid Austrian claims it is ready to "protect" its borders from any sudden mass migrant movements from Italy.

EU backs Italy on NGO rescues

The European Commission has said that the EU and Italy merely want to “better organise” migrant rescues in the Central Mediterranean.

News in Brief

  1. Wallonia's Magnette leaves national politics
  2. Polish president vetoes justice reforms
  3. Turkey arrests protesters, as journalists go to trial
  4. Poll: Only 24% of Germans want 'strong leader'
  5. US envoy: 'hot war' not frozen conflict in Ukraine
  6. BMW denies Dieselgate cartel allegations
  7. Polish parliament adopts controversial justice reform
  8. GMO opt-out plan unlikely to go anywhere in 2017

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  2. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  3. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  4. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  5. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  6. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Episode 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  9. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  10. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEuFoA Director and MEPs Comment on the Recent Conflict Escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh
  12. EU2017EEEstonian Presidency Kicks off Youth Programme With Coding Summer School