On 27th April, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported the deportation of refugees from Greece to Turkey has been resumed. Greek authorities had previously announced the suspension of deportations to Turkey, on 9th April, for a predicted two weeks in order to improve the deportation process.
Deportations from Greece began as the EU-Turkey Agreement came into effect on 20th March 2016, but these deportations were soon halted amidst criticism that several of the deported arrivals had been in the process of asylum application. According to the UNHCR, at least 13 of the first 202 deportees sought protection in Greece; however, Human Rights Watch believe the number of asylum-seekers wrongfully deported may be higher.
In visits to the VIAL detention center on Chios on April 7 and 8, Human Rights Watch spoke with 12 friends and one relative of 19 Afghans who were deported from Chios on April 4. Based on those interviews and text messages exchanged between those interviewed and the deportees, Human Rights Watch documented an array of irregularities and violations. The authorities did not inform people that they were going to be deported, did not tell them where they were being taken, and did not allow some of them to take their personal possessions.
– Human Rights Watch
19th April 2016
Despite the previous Greek suspension of deportations to ensure asylum applicants were not deported, the concerns on refugees’ safety in Turkey remain unaddressed. HRW continue the narrative of human rights organisations against the notion of Turkey being a “safe” countries for refugees, arguing Turkey does not provide effective protection according to the 1951 Refugee Convention; while also exposing the Turkish blocking of Syrian refugees at its border, even employing violence.