European Union nations say Turkey is a safe country for migrants to be returned to despite some Greek court rulings that people should not be sent back there.
Speaking at a press conference, Klaas, Dutch State Secretary for Security and Justice whose country holds the current EU Presidency said Turkey is “safe for returning migrants,” AP reported.
Dijkhoff added that “We also talked about visa liberalization today.
We see progress on all proposals including Turkey but we have not taken a decision yet. Some member states have expressed concrete worries,” he said.
Dijkhoff said they will continue to address these worries to come to an agreement for visa liberalization for Georgia, Ukraine, Kosovo and Turkey if they meet the criteria as soon as possible.
For his part, EU commissioner for home affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos told the same press conference that arrivals of migrants on Greek islands continue to decrease, while returns to Turkey have increased.
He noted that, on Thursday, 139 people were relocated from Greece to France in one single transfer.
In total, 2,195 migrants have been relocated so far, he added.
The EU has offered Ankara a large package of incentives to stop people reaching Europe.
Humanitarian organisations refusal
However, humanitarian organisations have previously rejected sending the migrants back to Turkey saying it is not a safe country for them.
“The European Union (EU) must immediately halt plans to return asylum-seekers to Turkey on the false pretence that it is a “safe country” for refugees,” Amnesty International said in a report.
The briefing, No safe refuge: Asylum-seekers and refugees denied effective protection in Turkish lands, details the short-comings in Turkish asylum system and the hardships refugees face there that would render their return under the EU-Turkey Agreement of 18 March illegal – and unconscionable.
The briefing shows that Turkish asylum system is struggling to cope with more than three million asylum-seekers and refugees. As a result, asylum-seekers face years waiting for their cases to be dealt with, during which time they receive little or no support to find shelter and sustenance for themselves and their families, with children as young as nine working to support families.
“The EU-Turkey deal is reckless and illegal. Amnesty International’s findings expose as a fiction the idea that Turkey is able to respect the rights and meet the needs of over three million asylum-seekers and refugees,”
said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.
“In its relentless efforts to prevent irregular arrivals to Europe, the EU has wilfully misrepresented what is actually happening on the ground in Turkey. It is to be expected that a new asylum system, in a country hosting the largest number of refugees in the world, would struggle. While there is value in supporting and encouraging it to develop a fully functioning asylum system, the EU cannot act as if it already exists.”