EU-Turkey deal ‘unrealistic, inhumane and illegal’

Draft agreement is a step back for social justice and human rights

11th March 2016

Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans are fighting for their lives and Europe's response is to close the borders in violation of their obligations under international law

Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans are fighting for their lives and Europe’s response is to close the borders in violation of their obligations under international law

The draft agreement, which will be debated at the European Council next week, would mean refugees being forcibly removed from Greece to Turkey. This is an outrageous breach with international law and another sign of the breakdown of the principles of solidarity and human rights that must be at the heart of a reformed vision for the European Union.

Another Europe Is Possible spokesperson Zoe Gardner said:

“The proposal of the EU-Turkey summit for the forced removal of refugees from Greece to Turkey, and accompanying closure of borders surrounding Greece, would, if agreed, represent a gross violation of international law and another tragic step backwards for a vision of Europe based on human rights and social justice.

“The policy is unrealistic, inhumane, and illegal under international law. Under the UN Refugee Convention EU states have an obligation to accept refugees fleeing war and persecution. Men, women and many children are stranded in desperate circumstances at border zones without any assistance except from Greek activists and international volunteers acting with no real EU support.

“The UK should be taking the lead in Europe to save human lives, offering people fleeing war and persecution a new start in safety, and pushing for genuine cooperation among all EU states to do the same. More unilateralism and closed borders is simply burying our heads in the sand from a crisis that is not going to disappear. A humanitarian, and not a security-based, response is vitally needed.”

Nick Dearden, the Director of Global Justice Now, said:

“Europe is disintegrating before our eyes. Open and democratic societies cannot be built on fear and hatred. Walls are being erected, borders secured and the most vulnerable people on earth are being shot with teargas.

“Europe is not ‘full’. Lebanon, a country half the size of Wales, has taken in a million Syrian refugees. It is perfectly possible for Europe to take far more migrants than we currently see. In fact, public services like the NHS would collapse without immigration.”