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Amnesty censures 'silly' EU plan to turn back refugees to Turkey

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A Syrian man and two of his children sit by fire at the Greek-Macedonian border near the Greek village of Idomeni on March 10, 2016. (AFP)

Amnesty International censured Friday a “silly” plan by the European Union to turn back refugees from Greek ports to Turkey.

“If they do that, well then first of all, from a logistical point of view, it's quite silly to get people out of Greece to Turkey then out of Turkey to Europe,” Eduard Nazarski, Amnesty’s Netherlands director, said.

The plan for returning refugees is part of a draft deal reached between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkey on March 7, whereby the EU will send to Turkey anyone arriving on the Greek islands. Under the controversial agreement, Turkey has also proposed to take back all refugees who cross into Europe from its soil in return for more money, faster EU membership talks and quicker visa-free travel.

The EU governments are expected to pen the legal details of the deal in an upcoming summit.

Nazarski said Turkey would not be a safe place for returned refugees as the country “does not even respect the rights of its citizens.”

“Turkey is not a safe country for refugees at this moment. Turkey hasn't undersigned the complete refugee convention. In Turkey, there is no decent asylum procedure.”

Nazarski urged the EU not to continue the “trade-off of refugees with Turkey.”

The draft deal between Turkey and the EU has already triggered concerns among human rights advocates.

The United Nations Refugee Agency, also known as the UNHCR, said Thursday that the agreement may lead to “collective and arbitrary expulsions” of refugees, which, it said, would be illegal under the international law.

Turkish officials said Friday the UNHCR will be involved in the implementation of the 6-billion-euro (USD 6.7 billion) deal to ensure Turkey complies with the international law in protection of the refugees.

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