Spanish NGOs criticize EU agreement to return all migrants & refugees to Turkey to await processing

Syrian and Iraqi refugees arrive to the Greek Island of Lesbos, Jan. 17, 2016. Photo: Ggia via Wikimedia Commons
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• UN High Commission on Refugees says deal violates international norms •

Spanish refugee assistance and human rights NGOs have roundly criticized the new draft agreement between the European Union (EU) and Turkey that would see all refugees and migrants arriving to European shores returned en masse to Turkey, with a European promise to later accept only Syrian asylum seekers to be processed through camps inside Turkey.

The Spanish office of the UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR/ACNUR) says the mass expulsion of refugees is prohibited by the European Convention on Human Rights, which along with the UN’s 1951 Treaty on the Status of Refugees holds that member counties must process refugee asylum applicants individually and either grant or refuse asylum before deportation can occur.

The Spanish Committee for Refugee Aid (CEAR) denounced the idea of returning refugees to Turkey, which she said could not ensure the protection of the basic rights of refugees, given its poor record on respect for human rights among its own citizens. Meanwhile, four Spanish Catholic church agencies have announced their “absolute rejection” of the deal as an unacceptable radical shift in European immigration policy and serious setback in efforts to ensure the protection of the refugees’ human rights.

► Read More in Spanish at El Día and Europa Press …

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