Thursday, April 4, 2013

UN investigating deportation of Syrian refugees from Turkey

The UN’s is concerned that Turkey may have breached international asylum laws after reports that it had deported hundreds of refugees involved in Wednesday’s riot.

The UN’s High Commission for Refugees said it was investigating the reports and has been in contact with the Turkish government.

Spokeswoman Sybella Wilkes, told the Guardian:
We are very concerned that there are allegations of possible deportations from the camp in the past day. That would be a breach of international law. It would violate the principle of non-refoulement, because with the situation in Syria people’s lives could be in danger.

A Turkish official has denied that those involved were deported. Hurriyet quoted an official saying: “We refute the deportation claims; nearly 500 people return every day to Syria of their own free will. The status we provide for Syrian refugees is temporary protection; without their will, not a single Syrian national can be sent back.

Wilkes added:
We are seeking further information and we are in touch with the authorities. We are very concerned that yesterday it appeared there was a very serious incident of a riot that inflicted considerable damage - we’ve heard up to $0.5m-worth of damage - in the camp.

There has been more unrest today involving Syrian refugee at the Za’atari camp in Jordan.

Wilkes said:
It is not necessarily that the system is at breaking point, but what is clear is that living as refugees is extremely difficult. Having said that we do remind the refugees that they do have real obligations to abide by the laws of the country’s that they are living in and try and be a part of maintaining peace.

Since the UNCHR announced that the number of refugees had topped 1 million, earlier this month the number has already increased by 20% to 1,204,707 people.

Wilkes confirmed that the rate of exodus from Syria is increasing.
In March alone we have had an average of 10,000 people crossing per day. In February it was 8,000. In January it was 5,000.

The numbers keep going up and up. And yet at the same time the funding is not going up.

There is no doubt that Europe and the western world could do a whole lot more. First by funding those hosts countries who have opened their doors to hundreds of thousands of refugees. Secondly, for those Syrians who do arrive in Europe making sure they are protected and care for. And thirdly, down the line, thinking about offering homes to some of these refugees.