Refugees in limbo at Turkish-Greek border

Refugees in limbo at Turkish-Greek border
As the EU sealed off its borders to try to prevent the aggressive spread of the coronavirus pandemic, the 10,000 refugees amassed along the Turkish-Greek border are bearing the human cost. (AP)
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Updated 19 March 2020

Refugees in limbo at Turkish-Greek border

Refugees in limbo at Turkish-Greek border

ANKARA: As the EU sealed off its borders to try to prevent the aggressive spread of the coronavirus pandemic, the 10,000 refugees amassed along the Turkish-Greek border are bearing the human cost.

The leaders of Turkey, Germany, France, and Britain discussed the latest situation in Syria’s rebel-held northern province of Idlib and the situation of refugees on the border of Turkey and Greece at a televised meeting on Tuesday. Thousands of refugees flocked to the border after Ankara announced that it would no longer stop them from reaching to Europe.

But no further detail was given to the public about the decisions taken at the tele-summit, leaving the refugee issue in limbo.

According to Kenneth Roth, executive director at Human Rights Watch, the real issue is not the current number of asylum seekers at the Turkish-Greek border, shameful as it is that Greece is ripping up its legal obligations to let them submit their asylum claims by violently returning them to Turkey, all with an acquiescent nod from the EU.

“The real issue is whether three-to-four million civilians in Syria’s Idlib province will soon join them. That depends on whether the European powers put tough pressure on Putin — meaning the threat of targeted sanctions on the top Russian officials involved — if he suspends the current cease-fire in Idlib as he has done countless times in the past,” he told Arab News.

Turkey already hosts 3.6 million Syrian refugees, and is unwilling to take in more.

According to Roth, the only way to prevent a mass exodus from Idlib, after any potential indiscriminate bombardment of civilians, is with tough, targeted pressure on Putin now.

“The summit participants didn’t speak publicly about this central issue. I certainly hope it dominated their private conversation,” he said.

Dr. Christina Bache, visiting fellow at London School of Economics and Political Science, said that the tele-summit between Turkey, France, and Germany on Tuesday failed to result in a coherent strategy to address the war in Syria or the humanitarian implications of the war.

“The EU and Turkey’s failure to pursue a principled human-rights approach to migration management has once again been on display this past month. Turkey’s governing Justice and Development Party will likely continue to exploit rising anti-immigrant sentiment in Europe coupled with growing concern over the coronavirus pandemic for the sake of political opportunism,” she told Arab News.

For its part, Bache said, the EU will likely continue to export migration management to third countries despite their authoritarian tendencies, justify the securitization of migration, and disperse additional funding to stem irregular migration rather than address the root causes of the phenomenon.

According to Bache, Syrians have borne the brunt of an increasingly authoritarian Turkey, its deteriorating relationship with the EU, and the EU’s failure to address its institutional deficiencies in migration management.

“The humanitarian situation in Idlib is catastrophic. Nearly one million people have been displaced by the fighting and require immediate humanitarian aid. The current cease-fire should hold and humanitarian organizations should be allowed into the area to meet the needs of civilians,” she said.


Bomb kills two policemen in Afghan capital

Bomb kills two policemen in Afghan capital
Updated 16 January 2021

Bomb kills two policemen in Afghan capital

Bomb kills two policemen in Afghan capital
  • Two policemen were killed and one wounded
  • The two warring sides are currently in the Qatari capital Doha discussing the agenda items of the talks

KABUL: A roadside bomb targeting a police vehicle in the Afghan capital killed two policemen Saturday, officials said, as violence continues unabated in Afghanistan despite peace talks between the Taliban and government.
The vehicle carrying the policemen was struck by the bomb in the center of the capital on the road to the prestigious Kabul University, police spokesman Ferdaws Faramarz said.
Two policemen were killed and one wounded, Faramarz said.
Violence has surged across the country in recent months, especially in Kabul which is also rocked by a new trend of targeted killings that has sown fear in the city.
The bloodshed comes even as the Taliban and government negotiators engage in peace talks to end the nearly two decade war in the country.
The two warring sides are currently in the Qatari capital Doha discussing the agenda items of the talks.