Refugees must not be used as bargaining chips!

Bulgaria, Europe, Greece, Migration and Asylum, Press Release, Syria, Turkey

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Refugees are currently being used as pawns in the global power play surrounding the war in Syria. In Idlib, nearly a million people, including many children, are still trapped under heavy bombardments in front of a closed Turkish border. There are currently 3.5 million refugees in Turkey from Syria and a further half a million from other countries. In recent days, the flow of refugees has significantly increased towards Turkey’s borders with the EU (Greece and Bulgaria), a flow which Turkey has been accused of utilising in order to leverage EU support for its military action in Idlib. Violence at the Turkish borders with Greece and Bulgaria are putting refugees at danger.

Refugees are not a bargaining chip to be played with at the whims of political leaders. Europeans cannot look away from what might become one of the worst humanitarian disasters the war in Syria has brought on its people. Respecting international humanitarian law as well as the human right to protection and refuge remain the sole possible answer in front of such indiscriminate violence,” said Wadih Al-Asmar, President of EuroMed Rights.

Despite the publication of a joint statement calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities in Idlib, signed by fourteen European Ministers for Foreign Affairs last week, the EU has yet to propose something other than a security approach at its own borders. EuroMed Rights renews its calls to the EU and its Member States to step up their actions and support the opening of humanitarian corridors as proposed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The European Union should also stand up to the values it heralds by swiftly opening legal pathways for the refugees from Syria and other countries to enter Europe.

The European Union must allow safe passage of refugees and Member States like Greece and Bulgaria, as well as the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), must refrain from push-backs, violence at borders and violation of asylum rights. In light of the recent moves by Turkey to let refugees enter Europe by land and sea, the EU’s Temporary Protection Directive should be triggered. EuroMed Rights also asks that Turkey respect its international obligations regarding the protection of human rights,” added Wadih Al-Asmar.

Read EuroMed Rights’ previous release on the situation in Idlib.