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The EU-Turkey Refugee Deal. First Lessons for the Mediterranean Neighborhood Strategy

Hausarbeit 2018 23 Seiten

Politik - Internationale Politik - Thema: Europäische Union

Leseprobe

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. The EU-Turkey Statement and its implications for Syrian refugees
2.1 A brief overview of the Syrian civil war
2.1.1 Background and origins
2.1.2 Syrian refugees in Turkey
2.1.3 Smuggling Refugees into Europe
2.2 Legal framework governing the status of refugees
2.2.1 International Refugee Law: The 1951 Refugee Convention
2.2.2 EU Legal Framework
2.3 Political developments in EU and German policy before
2.4 The Statement: its core dimensions and aftermath
2.4.1 Overview of the Nine Main Points of the Agreement
2.4.2 Negative outcomes of the deal
2.4.3 Positive outcomes of the deal

3. Immigrants and Refugees from North Africa
3.1 Background
3.1.1 Structure of African Migration to the EU
3.1.2 Similarities with and Differences to Turkey

4. Evaluation: lessons to take from Turkey in considering EU relations to North Africa
4.1 Critical questions: aspects to be modified
4.2 A route forward: aspects that can be adopted

5. Conclusion

6. Bibliography..

1. Introduction

The EU-Turkey deal of March 2016 between Greece and Turkey set out to curb irregular arrivals into the EU by returning refugees to Turkey, in exchange for increased resettlement for Syrian refugees living in Turkey. The deal was proposed as a mutually beneficial system, predicated on an 'exchange-like' model which offered additional advantages by way of financial aid to Turkey and visa-free travel for its citizens. Almost two years on, however, many of the core issues engendering the refugee crisis remain unresolved, raising questions about whether a deal like this can only ever hope to address some of the symptoms, without really getting to the crux of the problem.

This paper will consider the EU Turkey deal, both its advantages and disadvantages, after charting some of the relevant background to the Syrian conflict and where we are today. At the core of this paper's analysis will be the fundamentally human issues raised by the current refugee crisis - ranging from smuggling to maltreatment in detention centres. In order to assess the lessons that can truly be learnt from this deal, this paper will discuss the situation of African migration, with a focus on Libyan refugees. I will examine whether the EU-Turkey deal provides a blueprint for considering the relation between the EU and North Africa, with a critical reflection on which facets can be adopted and which must be modified. I will explore the added complexities with reaching a deal with North Africa, and conclude by analysing how far this deal can be considered a success (even on its own terms, and whether it has achieved what it set out to do) and thus offer a model for future deals between the EU and North Africa. This analysis will be framed by a consideration of the human dignity of refugees and the extent to which deals that operate on a basis of 'exchange' can truly safeguard the human rights of those fleeing their homes.

2. The EU-Turkey Statement and its implications for Syrian refugees

2.1. A brief overview of the Syrian civil war

2.1.1 Background and Origins

Syria is the site of one of the most devastating and urgent humanitarian crises of the twenty-first century. Over the course of the past few decades, half of the entire population has been forcibly displaced from their homes due to the conflict and over 470,0001 Syrians have lost their lives in years of armed conflict.

In March 2011, the city of Deraa saw the outbreak of pro-democracy protests following the arrest and torture of some teenagers who painted anti-regime slogans on a school wall. Led by President Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian regime repressed the protests by killing hundreds of demonstrators and imprisoning many more. In July 2011, defectors from the military declared the founding of the “Free Syrian Army” and other rebel forces which sought to wrest control from government forces of various cities, towns and the countryside. This precipitated Syria’s descent into civil war. The fighting reached the capital Damascus and the second-largest city of Aleppo in 2012.

By June 2013, the UN reported that 90,000 people had been killed in the conflict. According to leading activists and the UN, those figures had soared to 250,000 by August 20152.

Since 2011, there have been over 117,000 cases of detention and disappearances - the majority by regime forces. According to the Syrian Network for Human Rights, this figure reached 4,557 between January and June 2016.3 Torture and degradation are rife in detention centres, with thousands of reported fatalities.

The Syrian conflict has seen over 6 million people flee their homeland, most of whom are women and children. The neighbouring states of Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan have faced serious challenges in addressing the largest refugee crisis of our era.

With regards to those who remain in Syria, 85% dwell below the poverty line. Direct conflict is not the sole cause of the population’s suffering - widespread unemployment, the devastation of livelihoods, damages to land and reduced food production have made families considerably more insecure and unable to meet their daily needs.

2.1.2 Syrian Refugees in Turkey

Within just a month of the conflict’s onset, several hundred refugees from Syria arrived in Hatay, Turkey’s border province. Escaping from the regime’s brutal crackdown on the protests, the refugees were welcomed by an open-door policy announced by the Turkish government. The influx of Syrian refugees into Turkey continued, and by mid-may 2011, thousands of Syrians fled to Turkey every month. Turkey’s disaster policy, AFAD (created in 2009), alongside the Turkish Red Crescent, had constructed six refugee camps across three Turkish provinces, each accommodating several thousand refugees4.

Figure 1: Number of Registered Syrians in Turkey (2012-2016)5

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As Figure 1 demonstrates, by June 2012, the numbered of registered Syrians was over 30,000. By June 2014, this figure escalated to ca. 770,000, with 75% being women and children, with 53% reported to be below 18 years old6. By mid-2016, the number of registered Syrians in Turkey rose dramatically, reaching almost 2.8 million. As early as November 2015, a leading Turkish NGO warned that the population of Syrian refugees is ‘mostly unemployed and most of them have very low incomes. They have health problems and psychological problems. Most of them are kids. This needs to be recognized and infrastructure should be strengthened because there is no other way to solve this problem.’7

According to United Nations estimates, Turkey’s Syrian refugee population is now more than 3.4 million, making Turkey the country hosting the largest population of Syrian refugees. In contrast, the official figure of Syrian refugees in Lebanon stands at ca. 1 million, in Jordan ca. 700,000, in Iraq ca. 250, 000 and Egypt ca. 130,000.8

These figures, however, do not account for those who have entered Turkey illegally and have therefore not been registered by official statistics. Turkish provinces that lie close to the border have seen many refugees enter illegally, most of whom are fleeing conflict zones along the border.

The policies of Turkey initially rested on the belief that the conflict would soon reach its end, thus enabling the displaced Syrians to return to their country. Yet, as the war shows no signs of abating, running into its seventh year, it is evident that a paradigm shift is necessary to address the longer-term and more deep-rooted issues arising from the violence.

Incidentally, the Turkish government was in the process of critically analysing and reforming its own immigration system in order to meet the standards set by the international legal framework, and those laid down by the European Union. The application of these legal reforms has hindered the capacity of the authorities to regulate the Syrian arrivals, and so, interim, this responsibility has largely fallen on the shoulders of national organisations operating on the ground and in refugee camps - in the absence of broader legal guidelines. At the same time, formal immigration channels, for instance the recognition of refugee status, remain accessible to Europeans, while non-Europeans are granted only temporary protection status and it is commonly expected that they will, sooner or later, resettle in a third country.

2.1.3 Smuggling Refugees into Europe

The desperate situation that refugees in Turkey are forced to confront (which typically includes the lack of jobs, access to education and suitable housing) has pushed many to attempt the journey to Europe by sea with the aid of smugglers.

A report by the EU security agency, Europol, which labelled efforts to combat the activities of illicit smugglers as successful, has been criticised by aid workers as more people lose their lives on the perilous journey than ever before. The new European Migrant Smuggling Centre (EMSC) is allegedly responsible for this success.

The director of Europol, Rob Wainwright, reported that over 90 per cent of refugees entering the EU have used smugglers. Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European Commissioner for migration, said the initiative by the EMSC was “successfully fighting, disrupting and apprehending criminal migrant smuggling networks”.9

2016 saw over 5,000 refugees lose their lives while crossing the Mediterranean (making it the deadliest year for those making the journey), and a report from the Independent noted that by April 2017, 1,000 refugees had drowned on the treacherous journey. UNICEF reported that at least 150 were children, advising however that the actual figure is probably far greater as the deaths of unaccompanied minors commonly go unreported.10 The causes of deaths on sea range from capsized dinghies, suffocation, hypothermia and starvation.

Research by Save the Children reported that the EU-Turkey deal had substantially reduced the flow of refugees crossing over the Aegean Sea to Greece but had provided smugglers with “a firmer grip on a hugely profitable business.”11 Caroline Anning, a spokesperson for Save the Children, stated the Europe’s priority should be offering secure, legal passages such as the Dubs amendment to resettle child refugees. Unless safe routes are made accessible for those seeking asylum, their journeys in the hands of people smugglers will continue to prove extremely dangerous, even fatal.

Europol’s report hinted at the knock-on impact of the crackdowns, highlighting the increase in boat journeys from North Africa to Europe following the EU-Turkey deal. The report stated, “facilitation by train and by air was increasingly reported; this displacement is believed to be the consequence of the additional controls implemented on land and sea routes”12, pointing also to an increase in the supply of forged documents.

2.2. Legal framework governing the status of refugees

The 1951 Refugee Convention is the key instrument of international law governing the status of refugees today. Signed by 145 state parties, the 1951 convention provides clear guidelines on how to define a ‘refugee’, as well as the legal paradigms to protect them. Sparked by the unprecedented displacement of 60 million people during WW2, the convention laid out the legal fabric for both the rights of refugees and the responsibilities of the nations hosting them.

2.2.1 International Refugee Law: The 1951 Refugee Convention and 1967 Protocol

The 1951 Convention defines a refugee as any person who ‘owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.’13 Initially, the convention was restricted to those fleeing events in Europe prior to 1951. The 1967 Protocol, however, to which 144 states are signatories, eliminated the temporal and geographic criteria and thus gave the convention a truly international scope.

The 1951 Convention excludes anyone who has committed a war crime or any other serious crime outside the country of asylum (e.g. murder) - including any crimes violating the principles of the UN. A refugee may have his/her status revoked if there is evidence that he/she has lied or misrepresented information, or if he/she commits a crime in the country of asylum.

According to international law, an asylum seeker is considered to be anyone who has crossed a border. There is a certain recognition of circumstances that may lead someone to enter a country illegally (e.g. through forged documents) - thus, there is no penalty for illegal entry per se. The responsibility for registering and recognising refugees is taken on either by the country that receives the asylum seeker or the UNHCR (particularly in countries where the host country is unwilling/unable to conduct the due process). The individual is then interviewed in accordance with the criteria laid out by the 1951 Convention.

One of the non-negotiable rules of international human rights law is that of nonrefoulement, meaning that no individual can be forced to return to a country where he/she is at risk of persecution. To do so would be a flagrant violation of their fundamental human rights.

2.2.2 EU Legal Framework

All individual EU states have ratified the 1951 Convention and are thus bound by its statutes, independently of their membership in the European Union. If any member state rejects one of the convention’s rules, its reservation must have been expressed at the time of ratifying the convention (which some have done). However, some articles of the convention cannot be derogated from under any circumstances, including the policy of non-refoulement and the basic definition of a refugee.

In addition to this, in 2005, the EU devised the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) - a commitment to maintaining fair and common standards for the protection of all asylum seekers. The CEAS is composed of a legal framework pertaining to all aspects of the asylum process as well as a support agency - the European Asylum Support Office (EASO).

2.3 Developments in EU and German policy before 2016

In response to the growing humanitarian crisis, Angela Merkel famously articulated Germany’s open-door policy towards refugees in her ‘ wir schaffen das ’ (we can manage it) statement in 2015: “I didn’t say it would be easy. I said back then, and I’ll say it again, that we can manage our historic task - and this is a historic test in times of globalisation - just as we’ve managed so much already, we can manage it.” This sentiment has indeed been reflected in statistical terms - Germany opened its doors to several thousand refugees each year and has been a favoured destination for those seeking asylum. In 2015, over one million refugees entered Germany, more than four times the total number for all of 2014.14

In 2016, the federal government passed an Integration Bill, with a view to refugee integration. To this end, refugees are obliged to participate in language learning and skills training before receiving a verdict. The law also abolished preference for applicants from Germany and the EU in the job market, and provided residence permits for refugees who have completed their vocational training. Moreover, in October 2015 and March 2016, the Asylum Packages I and II were passed, enforcing strict asylum laws. These amendments forbid family reunification for refugees who have not acquired full status. They also allow the authorities to deport those who have carried out serious criminal offences.

2.4 The Statement: its core dimensions and aftermath

In March 2016, the EU and Turkey signed an agreement to curb the flow of refugees arriving in Greece. In 2015, over 850, 000 people arrived by sea into Greece from Turkey15. The agreement was made to stem this mass movement, ensuring mutual cooperation between the signatories.

1. ‘All new irregular migrants crossing from Turkey into Greek islands as from 20 March 2016 will be returned to Turkey...in full accordance with EU and international law, thus excluding any kind of collective expulsion.’

2. ‘For every Syrian being returned to Turkey from Greek islands, another Syrian will be resettled from Turkey to the EU taking into account the UN Vulnerability Criteria...Priority will be given to migrants who have not previously entered or tried to enter the EU irregularly.’

3. ‘Turkey will take any necessary measures to prevent new sea or land routes for illegal migration opening from Turkey to the EU, and will cooperate with neighbouring states as well as the EU to this effect.’

4. ‘Once irregular crossings between Turkey and the EU are ending or at least have been substantially and sustainably reduced, a Voluntary Humanitarian Admission Scheme will be activated. EU Member States will contribute on a voluntary basis to this scheme.’

5. ‘The fulfilment of the visa liberalisation roadmap will be accelerated vis-à-vis all participating Member States with a view to lifting the visa requirements for Turkish citizens at the latest by the end of June 2016, provided that all benchmarks have been met.’

6. ‘The EU, in close cooperation with Turkey, will further speed up the disbursement of the initially allocated 3 billion euros under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey and ensure funding of further projects for persons under temporary protection identified with swift input from Turkey before the end of March.’

7. ‘The EU and Turkey welcomed the ongoing work on the upgrading of the Customs Union.’

8. ‘The EU and Turkey reconfirmed their commitment to re-energise the accession process as set out in their joint statement of 29 November 2015.’

9. ‘The EU and its Member States will work with Turkey in any joint endeavour to improve humanitarian conditions inside Syria, in particular in certain areas near the Turkish border which would allow for the local population and refugees to live in areas which will be more safe.’

2.4.2 Negative outcomes of the deal

The EU-Turkey deal is fraught with both difficulties and potential avenues for development. In considering the negative outcomes of the deal, one can begin by assessing the impact on the refugees themselves. The fundamental aim of the statement is to curb the flow of huge numbers of refugees to Europe - and although this has proven to be largely successful in numerical terms (a year after the EU-Turkey statement, 1,504 irregular migrants were returned to Turkey, compared to a year before the deal when 627 migrants were returned), the issue that confronts us relates to the human dimension of the deal - something that cannot be adequately summarised in numbers. In the first instance, by closing the main routes of smuggling, refugees will be searching for more dangerous and expensive routes that are exploited by smugglers. The deal has not stopped people embarking on perilous journeys to escape their countries - rather than providing a true solution, the agreement has merely delayed confronting the true reality of forced displacement in Europe.

Moreover, as the system is predicated on a system of exchange between the EU and Turkey, refugees who are vulnerable (for instance, the elderly) are returned to Turkey and replaced by younger men - who bring greater potential for the labour force. This points to a worrying model of human ‘exchange’ according to which those deemed most economically beneficial are prioritised for entry. Incidentally, children who constitute 40% of the refugee population, are returned.

An article by Amnesty International reported that ‘the premise on which the deal was constructed - namely that Turkey is a safe place for refugees - was flawed.’16 In the immediate months following the deal, Greece’s asylum committees came to the verdict, in several instances, that Turkey does not offer sustainable protection for refugees. Pro-Asyl, (the largest refugee assistance organization in Europe), criticised Greece's return of refugees to Turkey by forced deportation to an unsafe third country, reporting that this transgresses international and European asylum laws. All asylum applications are monitored in Greece and refugees were gathered on Greek islands in unsanitary conditions. A personal account of an asylum seeker named Noori, included in the same article by Amnesty International, tells us that he ‘sleeps on on a mattress on the floor in a cell with five other people’ while detained for six months on the Greek island of Lesvos (the first returnees under the agreement were sent directly to detention centres). He continues, ‘I have nothing to read in my language. I have not been given a clean blanket since my arrest.’17 The Greek islands evince the truly harrowing human implications of the deal - women, men and children suffer in squalid conditions, sleeping in thin tents and sometimes encounter violent hate crimes. In January 2017, following the deaths of 3 men in Moria camp, one refugee dwelling there told Amnesty International: ‘This is a grave for humans. It is hell.’18

Indeed, since the deal came into effect, there has been an increase in the number of human rights violations towards those seeking asylum. A year on from the deal, in March 2017, Amnesty International documented how some Syrian asylum-seekers have been forcibly sent back to Turkey without being able to access the due asylum procedure, and without being able to appeal against their return - violating international law (though some ‘willingly’ returned because of the conditions on Greek islands). Greece’s inability to offer a fair assessment of each asylum application it receives indicates that the mistreatment of refugees is being exacerbated by the deal, owing to an unreasonable level of pressure on Turkey.

On another note, many promises made as part of the deal are yet to be realized - including visa-free travel for Turkish nationals. President Erdogan has already mentioned on numerous occasions that the deal could collapse if the EU did not keep their promise on this issue. It was also pledged that Turkey would receive €6 billion in aid to assist its refugee community, yet there is little evidence that this sum has been offered in full. Finally, as of 17 January 2017, only 2,935 refugees have been resettled from Turkey into the EU. These numbers lie far below the expressed relocation limit of 72,000 refugees from Turkey to Europe.

2.4.3 Positive outcomes of the deal

Despite these negatives, the deal has proven a success on several fronts. Firstly, as Figure 3 indicates, cooperation with Turkish officials led to a dramatic decrease in the number of individuals arriving irregularly to the EU after the deal - a report from March 2017 by the European Commission notes that ‘from 10,000 in a single day in October 2015, daily crossings have gone down to an average of around 43 today, while the number of deaths in the Aegean decreased from 1,145 in the year before the statement to 80 in the year which followed.’19 This has helped to reduce the trade of illicit smuggling which exploits refugees. Indeed, the report continues: ‘one year later, that’s around one million people who have not taken dangerous routes to get to the European Union, and more than 1,000 who have not lost their lives trying.’20

The statement has therefore become a cornerstone in the EU’s broader approach to better manage the issue of migration, as detailed in the European Agenda on Migration from May 2015, whose aims it works to safeguard: saving more lives at sea, guaranteeing the safety of those in need of resettlement, and aiding the most vulnerable financially and through other social initiatives. One must remember, however, that although in numerical terms, more lives are being saved because of the deal, this only applies to those entering Greece. In making the route to Greece more difficult to access, many of those seeking asylum have attempted journeys to countries like Italy - where the route can often carry the same, or greater, risks.

Figure 3: Arrivals from Turkey to Greece in 2015 and 2016

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Moreover, in terms of humanitarian assistance, the EU is providing aid to Syrian refugees in Turkey with €3 billion for 2016 and 2017 through its Facility for Refugees in Turkey. This money is dedicated to initiatives on the ground that address both the needs of refugees and host communities, focusing on humanitarian aid, health, education, municipal infrastructure and economic support. €2.2 billion was set aside in the first year of the deal from the Facility and 39 projects worth €1.5 billion have been approved.

Crucially, these projects will guarantee that 500,000 Syrian children can access formal education, 70 new schools are built, 2,081 teachers and other education staff have undergone the required training, and two million refugees will gain access to healthcare services.

3. Immigrants and Refugees from North Africa

3.1 Background

Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia have been the main source countries of migration from Africa to Europe since the 1960s. This vast wave of migration has engendered diasporic communities with origins in these countries by the end of the 20th century. Recently, Libya is the main point of departure for irregular migrants travelling to Europe.

3.1.1 Structure of African Migration to the E.U.

After the 1973 Oil Crisis, European states tightened immigration controls, the result of which was not a reduction in North African migration but rather an encouragement of permanent settlement of formerly temporary migrants. This migration was largely from the Maghreb to France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. From the second half of the 1980s, the migrants began to move to Spain and Italy, due to a greater demand for low-skilled labour in those countries.

The early 1990s saw the imposition of visa requirements by Spain and Italy on migrants from the Maghreb and this led to heightened irregular migration across the Mediterranean. There has been a substantial increase in the number of countries producing irregular migrants since 2000, including certain sub-Saharan African states. Between 2000 and 2005, approximately 440,000 people per year emigrated from Africa, most of them to Europe21. Hein de Haas, the director of the International Migration Institute at the University of Oxford, declared that although public discourse depicts the phenomenon as one of irregular migrants largely fleeing conflict and poverty, the reality is that irregular migrants are often well-educated and can afford the cost of the journey to Europe. Migration from Africa to Europe, he states, is driven by a ‘structural demand for cheap migrant labour in informal sectors.’

He adds, ‘most migrate on their own initiative, rather than being the victims of traffickers...the majority of irregular African migrants enter Europe legally and subsequently overstay their visas.’

Refugees from Libya

Although the pattern of African migration discussed above is largely one of volitional movement for economic reasons, the recent case of Libya confronts us with a very different reality. Since Gaddafi’s regime fell in 2011, the number of people crossing the Mediterranean Sea has risen considerably as people have attempted to flee the vacuum of authority left behind. In 2016 alone, over 106,000 migrants sought to embark on the dangerous journey to Europe from Libya to Italy. They are fleeing conflict, persecution and poverty, though smugglers continue to exploit their desperation - charging between $750 to $3500 for a place on a boat they say is travelling to Italy. In most cases, the vessels are unsafe and far too crowded. At least 2, 726 people died in 2016 alone, more than the total for all of 2015. 22

3.1.2 Similarities with and Differences to Turkey

The circumstances leading to African migration and the Syrian refugee crisis are both similar and different in a number of ways, that makes it difficult to draw any simplistic comparisons. At its root, however, both Syrians and Africans who embark on the perilous journey to seek asylum are driven by a search for better opportunities for both themselves and their families. The distinction, however between an economic migrant and a refugee, becomes pertinent to the discussion here. An economic migrant is generally considered to be one who moves from one country to another to advance his/her financial and career prospects. As we saw above, the pattern of African migration has often been one of well-educated and reasonably well-off individuals seeking greater financial advancement and filling a gap in the labour market of certain European countries. This of course differs considerably from the case of Syrian refugees - who are forced to flee a relentless war and who often leave with very little by way of financial and material resources.

However, the recent case of Libya bears closer similarities to the plight of Syrian refugees. Libyan refugees are also fleeing from war after the power vacuum left in their country following the 2011 revolution. Moreover, both the Syrian and Libyan refugees have been, and continue to be, exploited by illicit smugglers who have been responsible for many fatalities on sea. The distressing reality evidenced by both Libyan and Syrian refugees is that, when the mass movement of humans is not properly managed in such a way that human dignity is at the forefront, there is potential for exploitation and damage. This has taken a worrying turn in the case of Libya, where recent reports have indicated that many African migrants travelling through Libya to reach Europe have been sold into slavery and held against their will in exchange for ransom money23. More and more migrants are being held in Libyan detention centres, subject to horrific abuses and often being sold off as workers in slave auctions24.

4. Evaluation: lessons to take from Turkey in considering EU relations to North Africa

4.1 Critical questions: aspects to be modified

Having considered the various dimensions of African migration as well as the negative and positive outcomes of the EU-Turkey deal, the question now arises of what we can take from this deal in considering North Africa, and in particular the current situation in Libya. As we saw, there are many negative implications of this deal and one can argue that only if the EU-Turkey deal were a success on most aspects, could we take it as a blueprint for considering the EU’s relationship to North Africa. A deal is possible with Turkey because the country is fairly stable, whereas a deal with a country like Libya is far more complex because of the instability that characterises the region. The human rights abuses discussed earlier where many migrants are sold into slavery also makes it unreasonable to pursue readmission agreements with Libya. Moreover, the EU-Turkey deal operates within a much smaller geographical zone, from Greece to Turkey whereas with North Africa, any potential deal would be far wider in geographical scope, including many different countries with diverse issues. The route from Greece to Turkey is thus easier to control, whereas the route from Libya to Italy and other European countries is far more complex.

Crucially, there are deals that have already been agreed to curb North African migration. This has typically taken the form of policies to do with readmission to a third country, as in the case of the EU-Turkey deal. In 2015, the European Agenda on Migration defined collaboration with third countries as a key priority when it comes to migration policy. The Agenda focuses on cooperation with third countries regarding removal and deportation, the readmission of irregular migrants and border controls and heightened surveillance.25

This readmission policy involves rewarding countries for their commitment to readmitting irregular migrants, as we saw in the EU-Turkey deal. The EU frequently offers funding for development and other activities as an incentive for third countries to cooperate on readmission. Such EU policy is centred on the premise that these countries can offer safe reception and protection. Both Turkey and certain African countries are being targeted most prominently by EU demands, partly driven by increased migration routes from or through these countries. They are promised European funding and specific channels of ‘legal mobility into the Union.’26 For the African countries, an ‘Emergency Trust Fund for Stability and Addressing the Root Causes of Irregular Migration and Displaced Persons in Africa’ has been set up, with €1.8 billion pledged by the Commission.

Recently, in February 2017, EU leaders met in Malta to agree on measures to curb irregular migration from Libya to Europe. The Italian-Libyan memorandum of understanding was signed through which Italy’s government will support and fund Libya’s coastguards, with the European Commission also agreeing to provide €200 million to fund development projects in North Africa, especially to ‘migration-related projects concerning Libya.’27. As part of this effort to curb African migration onto its shores, the EU is pursuing a policy of readmission agreements involving Libya and its neighbours: Egypt and Tunisia. The EU has offered Egypt and Tunisia relaxed visa restrictions for their citizens as well as financial aid in exchange for deportations of ‘unwanted African migrants.’28 However, it is unlikely that Tunisia and Egypt will want to host vast numbers of migrants, and the issue of human rights resurfaces here - Tunisia and Egypt have a history of detaining and deporting non-nationals against their will. The EU’s agenda of stemming migration by third country readmission raises important questions about how thoroughly the proposed third country is assessed for its protection of refugee rights.

We see therefore that policies similar to the readmission process of the EU-Turkey deal are already in place (or at least have been proposed) between the EU and parts of North Africa. By pursuing such readmission deals with third countries, the EU is pursuing short-sighted migration agreements with third countries that often display little regard for human rights protections and international law. The question of safeguarding refugee rights is one that does not feature as strongly as it should in the EU’s readmission policies of convenience (as we saw also with the treatment of refugees on the Greek islands).

Indeed, the deal between the EU and Turkey can only serve as a future model if its own aims are being fulfilled, which is currently not happening. The EU has failed to take as many refugees as they had initially promised, and the visa-free travel for Turkish citizens also remains unaccomplished. The question naturally arises, therefore: if the EU has not been able to sustain its end of the deal with a single country like Turkey, how would any future agreement between multiple North African countries be structured and effectively implemented?

4.2 A route forward: aspects that can be adopted

Nonetheless, the EU-Turkey deal has offered a way forward in addressing some of the difficult human issues related to refugees. As we saw in the section on positive outcomes, the deal has reduced the number of deaths on sea, ensuring the safety of those requiring resettlement and reducing illegal trafficking in smuggling. If such aims were also to be placed at the forefront in any future deal between the EU and North Africa, this could certainly mark one step further in tackling the issue of illicit smuggling and the fatalities caused by perilous journeys.

Moreover, the EU-Turkey deal is committed to humanitarian assistance through social initiatives and development projects, which is providing much needed resources and infrastructure to Syrian refugees in Turkey. If such a model were to be implemented in any deal between the EU and North Africa, grassroots projects would have to constitute a major part in order to empower refugee communities to work for their own development.

5. Conclusion

To conclude, the EU-Turkey deal holds potential as a model for future European relations with North Africa, though there are many difficulties that arise when considering the holistic picture and implications of such an ‘exchange-based’ model. In numerical terms, it is true that the deal has reduced the number of deaths on sea and has helped somewhat in curbing the illicit smuggling trade - and it is also true that for most people in the EU the refugee crisis is experienced as a play of numbers (the statistics of displacement). However, numbers do not tell the whole story. In fact, if one focuses on mere statistics, there is an inflated sense of the success rates of EU based programs, leading to an overestimation of the effectiveness of EU policies. The human issues at the core of this crisis have not been sufficiently addressed by this deal - in fact, by closing off certain routes, the situation has arguably been made worse for the most vulnerable who are routinely exploited by smugglers profiting from people’s desperation. Without proper access to the asylum procedure, many refugees are forcibly sent back to Turkey - a violation of human rights law. Taking the deal on its own terms, many of the promises made by the EU have not yet been realised, and the historic trend of the EU seeking readmission policies with the help of third countries (without a proper assessment of the human rights record of those countries and to what extent the refugees would be truly safe there) indicates a prioritisation of convenience over and above human rights. Constructive lessons from this deal can be learnt when considering EU relations to North African migration, on points such as humanitarian assistance and addressing the issue of smuggling. Despite these positive aspects, it is important to recognise the unique geography and political situation in North African countries like Libya where readmission is likely to place migrants and refugees at risk. Perhaps the final, enduring lesson that can be learnt from this deal is that human dignity and the safeguarding of human rights is non-negotiable, and until protective measures are put in place to protect those journeying from one country to another, the potential for exploitation remains an ever-present threat.

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Morocco_Cooperation_on_Readmission_Borders_and_Protection_A_model_to_follow_CEPS_2016

Clayton, J, Holland, H, Gaynor, T ‘Over one million sea arrivals reach Europe in 2015’ 2015, UNHCR United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, viewed 22 January 2018, http://www.unhcr.org/afr/news/latest/2015/12/5683d0b56/million-sea-arrivals-reach-europe-2015.html

Dearden, L 2017, ‘Refugee death toll passes 1,000 in record 2017 as charities attacked for conducting Mediterranean rescues’ ,independent, viewed 17 January 2018, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/refugee-crisis-migrants-asylum-seekers- mediterranean-see-libya-italy-ngos-smugglers-accusations-a7696976.html

‘EU-Turkey statement, 18 March 2016’ 2016, European Council Council of the European Union, viewed 22 January 2018 , http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2016/03/18/eu-turkey-statement/

‘Germany on course to accept one million refugees in 2015‘, 2015, The Guardian, viewed 22 January 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/08/germany-on-course-to-accept-one-million- refugees-in-2015

Gogou, K 2017 ‘The EU-Turkey deal: Europe's year of shame‘, Amnesty International, viewed 22 January 2018, https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/03/the-eu-turkey-deal-europes-year-of-shame/

Hoffmann, S, Samuk, S 2016, ‘Turkish Immigration Politics and the Syrian Refugee Crisis’, Working Paper Research Division Global Issues, Berlin 2016/No. 01, March, p 7, viewed 12 January 2018

https://www.swp- berlin.org/fileadmin/contents/products/arbeitspapiere/Working_paper_Hoffmann_Turkish_immigration _policy.pdf

Naib, F 2018, ‘Slavery in Libya: Life inside a container’, Aljazeera, viewed 30 January 2018, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/01/slavery-libya-life-container-180121084314393.html

Oezden, S 2013 ‘Syrian Refugees in Turkey’, Migration Policy Centre, European University Institute, ROBERT SCHUMAN CENTRE FOR ADVANCED STUDIES, Florence, viewed 09 January 2018, http://www.migrationpolicycentre.eu/docs/MPC-RR-2013-05.pdf

Quackenbush, C 2017, ‘The Libyan Slave Trade Has Shocked the World. Here’s What You Should Know’, viewed 30 January 2018, time.com/5042560/Libya-slave-trade/

Rodgers, L, Gritten, D, Offer, J & Asare, P 2017, ‘Syria: The story of the conflict’, BBC, viewed 01 January 2018, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-26116868

Sirkeci, I, Şeker,G , Tilbe, A , Ökmen, M, Yazgan, P & Eroğlu, D 2015, Turkish Migration Conference (TMC) Selected Proceedings, Charles University, Prague, viewed 12 January 2018, https://books.google.de/books?id=CPuaCgAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&hl=de#v=onepage&q&f=fal se

‘Syria's civil war explained from the beginning’ 2017, Al Jazeera Media Network, viewed 01 January 2018, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/05/syria-civil-war-explained-160505084119966.html

‘Syria’ People in Need, viewed 01 January 2018, https://www.clovekvtisni.cz/en/what-we-do/humanitarian-aid-and-development/syria

‘Syria Regional Refugee Response’, 2017, Information Sharing Portal hosted by UNHCR, viewed 12 January 2018, http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/country.php?id=224

‘Turkey’s Refugee Crisis: The Politics of Permanence’ 2016, International Crisis Group, Brussels, N°241, 30 November, P 28, viewed 10 January 2018, https://www.crisisgroup.org/europe-central-asia/western-europemediterranean/turkey/turkey-s-refugee- crisis-politics-permanence

Rollins, T 2017, ‘The ‘European Values’ of the Libya Migration Deal’, Atlantic Council, viewed 30 January 2018, http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/menasource/the-european-values-of-the-libya-migration-deal

Townsend, R 2015, ‘ The European Migrant Crisis ’ , p. 96, viewed 28.01.2018, https://books.google.de/books?id=612SCgAAQBAJ&pg=PA96&lpg=PA96&dq=During+2000 2005,+an+estimated+440,000+people+per+year+emigrated+from+Africa,+most+of+them+to+Europe& source=bl&ots=m_grCkUJIv&sig=CYFVi-jli7dXpYkiKV_t- yFokUw&hl=de&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiYvtG2qv7YAhWQDewKHWaECkAQ6AEIRTAD#v=onepa ge&q=During%202000- 2005%2C%20an%20estimated%20440%2C000%20people%20per%20year%20emigrated%20from%2 0Africa%2C%20most%20of%20them%20to%20Europe&f=false

World Report 2017, ‘Syria Events of 2016’, Human Rights Watch, viewed 01 January 2018, https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2017/country-chapters/syria

‘1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees’, UNHCR UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES, viewed 22 January 2018, http://unhcr.org.ua/files/Convention-EN.pdf 2017 ‘Eu-Turkey Statement: one year on’, European Commission, viewed 22 January 2018, https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/sites/homeaffairs/files/what-we-do/policies/european-agenda- migration/background-information/eu_turkey_statement_17032017_en.pdf

1 World Report 2017, ‘Syria Events of 2016’, Human Rights Watch, viewed 01 January 2018, https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2017/country-chapters/syria

2 Rodgers, L, Gritten, D, Offer, J & Asare, P 2017, ‘Syria: The story of the conflict’, BBC, viewed 01 January 2018, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-26116868 ‘Syria's civil war explained from the beginning’ 2017, Al Jazeera Media Network, viewed 01 January 2018, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/05/syria-civil-war-explained-160505084119966.html

3 ‘Syria’ People in Need , viewed 01 January 2018, https://www.clovekvtisni.cz/en/what-we-do/humanitarian-aid-and-development/syria

4 Özden, S 2013 ‘Syrian Refugees in Turkey’, Migration Policy Centre, European University Institute, ROBERT SCHUMAN CENTRE FOR ADVANCED STUDIES, Florence, viewed 09 January 2018, http://www.migrationpolicycentre.eu/docs/MPC-RR-2013-05.pdf

5 ‘Turkey’s Refugee Crisis: The Politics of Permanence’ 2016, International Crisis Group, Brussels, N°241, 30 November, P 28, viewed 10 January 2018, https://www.crisisgroup.org/europe-central-asia/western-europemediterranean/turkey/turkey-s-refugee- crisis-politics-permanence

6 Sirkeci, I, Şeker,G , Tilbe, A , Ökmen, M, Yazgan, P & Eroğlu, D 2015, Turkish Migration Conference (TMC) Selected Proceedings, Charles University, Prague, viewed 12 January 2018, https://books.google.de/books?id=CPuaCgAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&hl=de#v=onepage&q&f=fal se

7 Hoffmann, S, Samuk, S 2016, ‘Turkish Immigration Politics and the Syrian Refugee Crisis’, Working Paper Research Division Global Issues, Berlin 2016/No. 01, March, p 7, viewed 12 January 2018 https://www.swp- berlin.org/fileadmin/contents/products/arbeitspapiere/Working_paper_Hoffmann_Turkish_immigration _policy.pdf

8 ‘Syria Regional Refugee Response’, 2017, Information Sharing Portal hosted by UNHCR, viewed 12 January 2018, http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/country.php?id=224

9 Dearden, L 2017, ‘Refugee death toll passes 1,000 in record 2017 as charities attacked for conducting Mediterranean rescues’ ,independent, viewed 17 January 2018,

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/refugee-crisis-migrants-asylum-seekers- mediterranean-see-libya-italy-ngos-smugglers-accusations-a7696976.html

10 Ibid.

11 Ibid.

12 Ibid.

13 ‘1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees’, UNHCR UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES, viewed 22 January 2018, http://unhcr.org.ua/files/Convention-EN.pdf

14 ‘Germany on course to accept one million refugees in 2015‘, 2015, The Guardian, viewed 22 January 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/08/germany-on-course-to-accept-one-million- refugees-in-2015

15 Clayton, J, Holland, H, Gaynor, T ‘Over one million sea arrivals reach Europe in 2015’ 2015, UNHCR United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, viewed 22 January 2018, http://www.unhcr.org/afr/news/latest/2015/12/5683d0b56/million-sea-arrivals-reach-europe-2015.html

16 Gogou, K 2017 ‘The EU-Turkey deal: Europe's year of shame‘, Amnesty International, viewed 22 January 2018, https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/03/the-eu-turkey-deal-europes-year-of-shame/

17 Ibid.

18 Ibid.

19 2017 ‘Eu-Turkey Statement: one year on’, European Commission, viewed 22 January 2018, https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/sites/homeaffairs/files/what-we-do/policies/european-agenda- migration/background-information/eu_turkey_statement_17032017_en.pdf

20 Ibid.

21 Townsend, R 2015, ‘ The European Migrant Crisis ’ , p. 96, viewed 28.01.2018, https://books.google.de/books?id=612SCgAAQBAJ&pg=PA96&lpg=PA96&dq=During+2000- 2005,+an+estimated+440,000+people+per+year+emigrated+from+Africa,+most+of+them+to+Europe& source=bl&ots=m_grCkUJIv&sig=CYFVi-jli7dXpYkiKV_t- yFokUw&hl=de&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiYvtG2qv7YAhWQDewKHWaECkAQ6AEIRTAD#v=onepa ge&q=During%202000- 2005%2C%20an%20estimated%20440%2C000%20people%20per%20year%20emigrated%20from%2 0Africa%2C%20most%20of%20them%20to%20Europe&f=false

22 Baker, A 2016, ‘A week on board a refugee recovery ship’, Time, viewed 28 January 2018, http://time.com/refugee-rescue/

23 Naib, F 2018, ‘Slavery in Libya: Life inside a container’, Aljazeera, viewed 30 January 2018, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/01/slavery-libya-life-container- 180121084314393.html

24 Quackenbush, C 2017, ‘The Libyan Slave Trade Has Shocked the World. Here’s What You Should Know’, viewed 30 January 2018, time.com/5042560/Libya-slave-trade/

25 Carrera, S, El Qadim, N, Lahlo, M& Den Hertog, L 2016, ‘EU-Morocco Cooperation on Readmission, Borders and Protection: A model to follow?, CEPS (2016)’, Research Gate, viewed 30 January 2018, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/295490712_EU- Morocco_Cooperation_on_Readmission_Borders_and_Protection_A_model_to_follow_CEPS_2016

26 Ibid.

27 Rollins, T 2017, ‘The ‘European Values’ of the Libya Migration Deal’, Atlantic Council, viewed 30 January 2018, http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/menasource/the-european-values-of-the-libya-migration-deal

28 Ibid.

Details

Seiten
23
Jahr
2018
ISBN (Buch)
9783668774490
Dateigröße
572 KB
Sprache
Englisch
Katalognummer
v432233
Institution / Hochschule
Hochschule Darmstadt
Note
1,3
Schlagworte
EU-Turkey refugee deal EU Neighborhood Strategy refugees Syria

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Titel: The EU-Turkey Refugee Deal. First Lessons for the Mediterranean Neighborhood Strategy