#RefugeesCrisis: EU starts implementing controversial EU-Turkey deal

| March 29, 2016 | 0 Comments

refugee_crisis_Europe_aThousands of EU staff start arriving on the Greek islands of Lesbos and Chios on Monday 28 March to take on the daunting task of mass repatriation of asylum seekers to Turkey, writes Martin Banks.

Some 4,000 staff, including judges, interpreters, migration officers, asylum experts, border guards and others will be deployed, tasked with managing each case individually.

The staff are drawn from member states, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and EU agency FRONTEX. They will be backed up by 1,000 security staff and 200 Greek asylum service case workers. France and Germany have offered to send up to 600 police and asylum experts, while Romania will send 70.

An estimated 47,500 migrants are currently stranded on Greek territory.

The huge emergency mobilisation, costing an estimated €6 million in the first six months, follows the recent agreement reached between the EU and Turkey to return all new irregular migrants crossing from Turkey into the Greek islands.

Under the deal, for every Syrian among those sent back from Greece to Turkey, the EU will resettle one Syrian from the Turkish refugee camps where nearly three million people are living after fleeing their country’s brutal civil war.

The EU has also agreed to double refugee aid to Turkey to €6 billion, pave the way for visa-free travel to Turks in Europe’s Schengen passport-free zone and speed up progress in Turkey’s EU membership talks.

The aim is to cut off a route that enabled 850,000 people to pour into Europe last year.

The returns are to begin on April 4, as would resettlement of Syrian refugees in Europe. The aim is for 6,000 relocations to be completed within the next month and at least 20,000 by mid-May 2016.

The operation will be supervised by Maarten Verwey, the European Commission’s Director-General of the Structural Reforms Support Service.

However, the EU/Turkey deal has faced international criticism and deep doubts remain about whether it is legal or workable.

The European Council on Foreign Relations said, “If this is the cornerstone of the EU’s new response to the crisis it is a rather fragile one: mass readmissions are not only legally questionable but require large resources to be implemented. They are unlikely to work as a deterrent as long as there are no legal pathways into Europe: people fleeing war would still try to get into Europe one way or another.”

Janis Emmanouilidis, of the Brussels-based European Policy Centre, said the plan may cut the numbers arriving in Europe but would “neither settle the crisis nor provide adequate response to those in need of international protection.”

MEP Diane James, UKIP’s Justice and Home Affairs  spokeswoman,said, “The whole concept remains deeply flawed  as the objective is more a migrant merry-go-round than protecting EU citizens.Insufficient resources planned to really validate personal details and stop radicalised or terrorism intent individuals coming in via this porous pathway.”

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Category: A Frontpage, Asylum policy, EU, FRONTEX, Greece, Immigration, Refugees, Turkey

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