The EU-Turkey Trade Deal – Trading Refugees – My Response To Comments

I had posted a link to my previous blog post on Facebook and received a comment on it. I thought that is a good conversation to add on as a follow-up.

Facebook Comment –

“From what I understand, this is to deal with the ‘irregular migrants’ – Afghans and Pakistanis (3 Lakh Afghans have taken advantage of the situation and migrated via these routes) – also the EU will be sending back these so-called ‘irregular migrants’ and actually trade them for Syrians who really need help. It isn’t just a ‘send them back’ kind of a deal. Turkey wouldn’t take any more surely. Also the first batch of deportees were a few Pakistanis who took advantage of the situation – not Syrians. They’ll be exchanged for in-need Syrians.”

My Response –

Do you really honestly believe that this deal was to keep out Afghans and Pakistanis, while accepting Syrians?

Yes, the first batch were mostly non-Syrians. What that means is, they will be sent to Turkey and will be stuck there because EU doesn’t think they need asylum, or at least not as much as Syrians do. Therefore, EU smartly avoided taking in refugees from the first batch. Now the fall-out from that scenario will likely be animosity between these groups of refugees and resulting fights (which have already begun happening in Greece), economic difficulties for both Turkey and refugees, and all this disenfranchisement typically leads to terrorism. Related quote from The Guardian

“Also, by focusing only on Syrians, the deal implies they deserve better treatment than people fleeing other warzones and dictatorships – Afghans and Iraqis, for example – that have not received the same level of media attention as the Syrian crisis.”
Here’s another relevant quote from Quartz
“In a particularly chaotic year for migration to Europe, Afghans represent the second largest group of migrants traversing the Mediterranean Sea, after Syrians. But though their country is riven by fighting with the Taliban and other armed groups, they have received a different welcome. Instead of fast-tracked applications and pledges to make integration a top priority, Germany is labeling them as economic migrants and telling them to stay home.”

Here’s a UNHCR report that studied the reasons why different groups of refugees were fleeing their country and other related data – http://www.unhcr.org/56cc4b876.html. In this report you’ll see that 71% Afghan respondents cited conflict and violence for fleeing their country. Also mentioned in this report is “The lack of access to jobs that fit their skills, meet living expenses and avoid exploitation is the number 1 reason (41%) for Syrians to leave their last country of residence. The second reason (16%) is discrimination.” Just because Russia, US, UK and all the big guns were focused on Syria, and therefore the media too, doesn’t negate the fact that Afghanistan is a conflict zone. In fact, a % of these Afghan refugees took refuge in Pakistan before starting for Europe. Last year the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said that based on civilian casualties in the first six months of the year, 2015 is set to equal or exceed 2014’s record high numbers.

Moreover, this is deal is not in accordance with international law – “Human-rights groups and experts on Afghan migration worry that this is the beginning of a policy shift that amounts to asylum classification based on nationality, instead of the case-by-case evaluation required by international law, hurting chances for Afghans with legitimate fears.” But again, if the need is greater than a law, then I support not following the law.

In 2015, Turkey experienced 5 bombings. In the first quarter of 2016, Turkey experienced 2 bombings. Many “eligible” refugees won’t even get to go to Europe because they might just die in Turkey. Also, Turkey ‘allegedly’ has been using force at the Turkey-Syria border to keep out Syrian refugees.

Also, I’m a little disappointed to read your comment- “They’ll [people] be *exchanged* for in-need Syrians.” It’s not an easy situation, but they’re definitely not goods.

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