While managing to circumvent many asylum obligations, both in terms of EU policy and international law, the EU-Turkey refugee deal is stunningly shocking, leading the humanitarian community to object and even protest on the ground.
MSF only last week announced that it would withdraw from the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul this month and has previously withdrawn from the Moria Camp in Greece.
The “refugee crisis” in Europe, which represents a fraction of what Middle East regional states are experiencing, and its management, is an omnishambles. Efforts to create a Common European Asylum System never really solidified, despite work to develop a blueprint for asylum seeking registration.
In practice, each of the 28 states have their own way of dealing with refugees, which have ranged from open pathways to riot tactics and blockades.
The agreement between Brussels and Ankara was an attempt to be innovative, perhaps resorting to realpolitik or short-termism, depending on your perspective. However, many will agree that from a victim or rights-based approach, it’s a blow for protection, with predictions of false returns, discrimination against refugees and potential refoulment. Evidence so far has vindicated some of these predictions.
One of the points Turkey managed to get Merkel’s sign off on was the eventual creation of a “safe zone” – in somewhat wishy-washy language – something Turkey has been wanting for the past four years.