The delegation also found that all refugees in the 'removal centres' in Turkey were locked in prison-style conditions with no (or extremely limited) access to telephones or legal assistance.

The delegation spoke directly with numerous refugees as well as with Turkish authorities at the removal centres in Kırklareli and Edirne; and with refugees, international organisations, NGOs and volunteers in Istanbul, Gaziantep and Kilis (next to the Turkey-Syria border).

The key findings of the delegation were:

  1. Refugees deported from Greece have been given no opportunity to ask for asylum, neither in Greece nor in Turkey;
  2. Many, including children, are being held in detention in prison-style conditions;
  3. Documented push-backs of refugees to Turkey by Bulgarian and Greek police forces;
  4. Horrifying testimonials from refugees who were shot at by police and/or living in war-zone conditions near the Turkish-Syrian border (which is currently closed).

GUE/NGL Coordinator on the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee, Cornelia Ernst, stated: “Contrary to the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights, which Turkey has ratified, and contrary to Turkish law, the detainees in the centres we visited had not received information as to the purpose and length of their detention, their right to apply for international protection or their right to challenge their detention before a court. In fact, the detainees did not even know how to contact a lawyer.”

“Deporting refugees to a place where they face such conditions is a disgrace. I cannot see how an agreement such as the EU-Turkey deal, which builds upon such deportations, can be legitimate or legal in any way.”

Spanish MEP, Marina Albiol Guzmán, explained: “Turkey has been hired as a deportation agency, putting into practice the migration policies designed in Brussels.[…] their main goal is to return people back to the areas from which they have fled, even if they will face extreme peril in countries such as Afghanistan or Yemen. Everyone who is not Syrian or Iraqi is immediately sent back regardless of their situation, in clear violation of the principles laid down in the Geneva Conventions. In this visit we have been able to see first-hand that Turkey is not a safe country.”

Basque MEP, Josu Juaristi Abaunz, added: “It is absolutely unacceptable that families with children are imprisoned in detention centres in Turkey. And this is happening thanks to funds of the European Union. […] One million refugee children in Turkey are of school age. However, only 13 per cent can attend school. We are leaving an entire generation without a future and the Member States of the EU are directly responsible for this crime.”


Read the full report on the delegation to Turkey, including testimonies of refugees and additional quotes from MEPs

View video recording of press conference on the findings of the delegation to Turkey


GUE/NGL Press Contacts:

Nikki Sullings  +32 22 83 27 60 / +32 483 03 55 75

Gay Kavanagh +32 473 84 23 20

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