Turkey should re-open border to refugees – HRW

Human Rights Watch called on Turkey to keep the doors open for Syrians fleeing violence in their home country.

“As border guards try to seal the last remaining gaps in Turkey’s border, hundreds of thousands of Syrians are trapped in fields to face the bombs on the Syrian side,” Gerry Simpson, associate refugee rights program director at Human Rights Watch, said in a new report.

“The EU should press Turkey to open its border to those in need, and provide meaningful support, not silently stand by as Turkey ignores refugee law and pushes thousands back to face the carnage.”

Turkey responded to the allegations, saying that it did not turn away Syrians and that it had registered 510,448 Syrian asylum seekers in 2017, and 91,866 in 2018.

But Human Rights Watch interviewed 137 individuals who had been stopped and turned back by Turkish border guards in their attempts to flee the conflict.

“Turkey deserves credit and support for its generosity and is entitled to secure its border with Syria,” the group said.

“However, Turkey is also obliged to respect the principle of nonrefoulement, which prohibits countries from returning anyone to a place where they face a real risk of persecution, torture, or inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment. This includes a prohibition on rejecting asylum seekers at borders that would expose them to such threats.”