© Jesper Guhle
© Jesper Guhle

DRC concerned about returns from Greece to Turkey

Returns from Greece to Turkey began today, in accordance with the EU-Turkey agreements of March 18. The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) expressed concerns about the premature nature of the returns and not least whether all procedures are in place for the returns to start, the organization said in a statement today.

The Danish Refugee Council is not involved in the process and hence do not have specific knowledge about who is being returned and on what basis. DRC must presume that relevant authorities adhere to their responsibilities, but considering the nature of the agreement and its premature implementation, the organization does however have some concerns in accordance with the returns.

DRC expresses concerns about the following conditions:

  • Does the process comply with the EU's own rules on what should be in place in order to reject people from seeking asylum – and does it live up to UNHCR’s standards?
  • Are the right procedures for applying for asylum in Greece in place? In particular, are the decisions taken by vulnerable people done on an informed basis? It is vital that they be thoroughly advised by independent advisors about their rights and possibilities. Additionally, is the appeal system sufficiently up and running? DRC notes that the Greek appeals body has not been functional since September 2015 when its mandate expired. Is the reception capacity on the Greek islands fit to accommodate the same number of people arriving as are being sent back to Turkey?
  • Are people being denied the chance to have their asylum claims processed and being rejected based solely on their nationality rather than protection needs?
  • Is the reception capacity in Turkey in place – both in terms of accommodation and asylum procedures? Will it be a transparent and dignified return movement?
  • What will happen to those stranded in Greece, who arrived before the agreement came took effect?

The Danish Refugee Council is a leading humanitarian organization working on all aspects of the refugee cause with 5,000 employees in 40 countries throughout the world. The aim of DRC is to protect refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) against persecution and to promote durable solutions to the problems of forced migration, on the basis of humanitarian principles and human rights. The Danish Refugee Council assists 2.5 million displaced and conflict affected persons each year.