4 April 2016 - The implementation of a European Union deal to deport large numbers of people from Greece back to Turkey has been denounced as ‘morally reprehensible’ and possibly illegal by the international development agency Christian Aid.
The first boats carrying 202 people being deported from Greece arrived in western Turkey on Monday.
Christian Aid, which provides relief to refugees through its local partner on the Greek islands of Kos, Chios and Samos, has condemned the deportations and has questioned the capacity of Greek authorities to properly and fairly assess people’s claims for asylum before sending them back.
Jenny Brown, Senior EU Relations Advisor at Christian Aid, said: “What we’re seeing today is deeply disturbing. The deportations that have taken place are of those people who have either not applied for asylum, or whose applications have been turned down.
“Yet we know that there is inadequate provision of legal support to the thousands of people currently stranded. One seriously doubts whether due process, in line with international law, is in place.
“The individuals who are being deported, of whatever nationality, have a right to claim asylum, and to have their claims fairly assessed. The decision to deport people in this way is morally reprehensible. Not only is it questionable under international law, but it is also unclear what conditions people are being sent back to.
“Rather than implementing this highly dubious deal with Turkey, the EU should instead be focusing on providing safe and legal means for people seeking sanctuary to reach the EU, and when there to have their claims fairly assessed.”
More than 150,000 people have arrived in Greece since the beginning of the year. Despite borders now being shut, hundreds of people have continued to arrive in Greece every day since the EU Turkey deal was approved in March. There are now some 50,000 refugees stranded in Greece, with more than 14,000 people trapped on the Greece-Macedonia border, in conditions that the UN has described as ‘unliveable.’
In Europe, Christian Aid is working through the ACT Alliance to support humanitarian efforts in Greece and Serbia. In Greece, the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) is providing food, water, hygiene kits and baby items on the islands of Chios, Samos and Kos. Christian Aid continues to work with our partners in Iraq and Lebanon in response to the Syrian refugee crisis.
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Notes to editors:
1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 40 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.
2. Christian Aid’s core belief is that the world can and must be changed so that poverty is ended: this is what we stand for. Everything we do is about ending poverty and injustice: swiftly, effectively, sustainably. Our strategy document Partnership for Change explains how we set about this task.
3. Christian Aid is a member of ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development.
4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter
5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid visit http://www.christianaid.org.uk