As part of a wider programme of country visits to 11 EU countries and to Turkey, an EESC delegation undertook a three-day mission to Ankara and Izmir to meet authorities and civil society organisations active in the migration field from 9 to 11 March 2016. In its Turkey mission report, the EESC presents 13 concrete recommendations to address the current situation. According to the report, no matter what is agreed between States, irregular crossing will not stop as long as the war in Syria continues. Protecting persons seeking protection in Turkey and elsewhere is a key concern that would benefit from a rights-based EU approach in concluding agreements with Turkey and any concerned country. The mission report was published today and included the following conclusions:
·Status of Turkey as safe country to host refugees: several Turkish civil society organisations (CSOs) expressed concerns as to whether Turkey can be considered to be a safe third country, since many persons needing international protection, including Syrians, have been deported to their country of origin, despite the risk to their life and in violation of the principle of non-refoulement. Only Europeans are recognised as refugees and those coming from other parts of the world seeking protection are considered to be "guests", without the international legal status as refugees.
·Few integration possibilities. The geographical reservation to the 1951 Geneva Convention prevents the integration of refugees to the Turkish society: Since Turkey applies the 1951 Geneva Convention with a geographic limitation - Syrians can obtain temporary protection and other nationalities can only apply for a subsidiary protection on humanitarian grounds. They are subject to additional restrictions on mobility. Integration into the labour force, long-term integration and family reunification remain a problem for both categories. CSOs report that access to certain rights is very limited and recent arrivals cannot plan their future in Turkey.
·The scope of social rights that refugees in Turkey can enjoy is limited, according to interviewees from CSOs: Refugees cannot directly apply for a work permit and have to rely on employers, who have no incentive to employ foreigners, since the Turkish law forces them to hire a number of local people for each foreigner that they employ. Non-Syrian refugees have to live in 'satellite cities' which limits their freedom of movement and job opportunities. As education is not mandatory for foreigners, most children who live outside camps leave school in order to work.
·The fight against smuggling is limited: Although the authorities have increased the number of officers, vessels and technological equipment available to combat smuggling, CSOs report that the rate of convictions is very low and that the Turkish law is not strict enough to have a preventive effect; conviction rate is still low.
Read the full EESC fact-finding report on the mission to Turkey here.
As part of its reflections on EU migration strategy, the (LINK) EESC published a report based on meetings with more than 180 stakeholders, mainly from civil society organisations actively working with refugees and migrants on 16 March 2016.
EESC report based on 11 fact-finding country visits:
Country-specific reports from each visit:
For more information, please contact:
Milen Minchev, EESC Press service
Tel: +32 2 546 87 53