SINCE January, thousands of refugees have been forced to return to Syria, a report by Amnesty International says.
This news follows a recent deal between the EU and Turkey, aimed at reducing the number of refugees arriving in Greece whilst Turkey has denied sending back refugees against their will.
The report comes only days before Turkey is due to receive migrants returning from Greece under the new deal struck with the EU.
The charity says that Turkey has been sending back groups of migrants since about January, although this is in breach of international law. Groups of around 100 men, women and children although the “non-refoulement” policy means that it should be prohibited from sending back individuals to a war zone.
There have also been reports from Amnesty of young children and pregnant women being sent back, travelling alone. Whilst the majority seem to be unregistered Syrian refugees some are sent back even if they don´t have their papers on them.
“The inhumanity and scale of the returns is truly shocking; Turkey should stop them immediately,” said Amnesty’s director for Europe and Central Asia, John Dalhuisen,
Under the new deal, illegal migrants arriving in Greece from Turkey will be sent back from April 4 if their asylum claim is rejected. Turkey´s part of the deal means the country will receive aid and concessions.
There are concerns over safety in Turkey. “In their desperation to seal their borders, EU leaders have wilfully ignored the simplest of facts: Turkey is not a safe country for Syrian refugees and is getting less safe by the day,” said Mr Dalhuisen.
“The large-scale returns of Syrian refugees we have documented highlight the fatal flaws in the EU-Turkey deal. It is a deal that can only be implemented with the hardest of hearts and a blithe disregard for international law.”
He added: “Far from pressuring Turkey to improve the protection it offers Syrian refugees, the EU is in fact incentivising the opposite.”