Gülseren Yoleri, the Istanbul branch president of Turkey’s prominent rights watchdog Human Rights Association (İHD), emphasised on Monday the pressing need for a global fight against anti-immigrant agreements by the European Union.
Speaking to Ömer İbrahimoğlu from Mezopotamya Agency, Yoleri highlighted that the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) 2022 report identified 108.4 million displaced persons globally. Turkey, seen as a gateway from the Middle East to Europe, currently hosts 4.9 million registered migrants, roughly 2 million of whom are suspected to be irregular migrants.
Yoleri underscored that the global issue of migration requires a unified approach. “Recent years have not only seen political and war-driven asylum requests, but also economic and ecological reasons have been added,” she stated. Various civil society organisations continue to lobby for these factors to be included in international asylum law.
She also drew attention to the emergence of refugee camps in the wake of the Syrian war, pointing in particular to conditions of the camps established in Turkey. “Freedom is restricted in these camps, and the violation of women’s and children’s rights is on the rise,” Yoleri revealed. She noted that European countries face a similar dilemma, as pressure builds for refugee camps to be located outside national borders.
European states, including the UK, use countries like Turkey and Greece as “refugee depots”, Yoleri said. Recently, the UK built a controversial detention centre on a ship named “Bibby Stockholm” to deter migrants. “These countries are focusing on security measures to prevent migration rather than addressing the root causes,” she said.
Addressing the situation of Syrians in Turkey, Yoleri debunked claims that refugees receive free education, salaries and healthcare. She pointed out that they face discrimination and language barriers, even though they are under “temporary protection” status.
Yoleri also questioned the transparency of the EU’s funding for refugees in Turkey. “There are serious concerns about whether the funds actually reach the refugees,” she stated.
She concluded by stating that governments should approach the refugee issue from a humanitarian perspective rather than a political standpoint. “The solution must be human-centred,” Yoleri added.
Unpacking the flaws of the new EU pact on migration: A critical perspective from the European Network Against Racism
According to the European Network Against Racism’s Policy Briefing published on 20 June 2023, the new EU Pact on Migration and Asylum raises several critical issues that warrant attention.
Firstly, the pact appears to be designed to limit accessibility to international protection for migrants, thereby undermining international and European refugee laws. It introduces mandatory border procedures that could prevent asylum seekers from accessing regular asylum procedures, eroding the principle of non-refoulement.
Secondly, the pact allows member states to make their own assessments of ‘safe third countries’, a move that opens the door for potential abuse and human rights violations. This is particularly concerning given the pact’s tendency to externalise migration responsibilities to neighbouring non-EU countries, some of which have questionable human rights records.
Thirdly, the pact’s financial provisions are problematic. Member states can opt to provide financial contributions instead of accepting the relocation of asylum seekers. This reduces the complex issue of human migration to mere financial transactions, equating the worth of a migrant’s life and dignity to a sum of €20,000.
Fourthly, the pact is likely to disproportionately affect radicalised communities. It perpetuates bias and discrimination against refugees and migrants from countries with low recognition rates, contradicting the EU’s own Action Plan Against Racism.
Lastly, the pact’s approach to migration is tinged with neo-colonialist undertones, as it encourages member states to trade their responsibility to relocate migrants for financial contributions. This not only devalues human life but also perpetuates a system of inequality and exploitation.
In summary, the new EU Pact on Migration and Asylum, as critiqued by the European Network Against Racism, seems to be a step backward in terms of human rights, fairness, and equitable treatment of migrants and refugees.