Amnesty International says Turkey has been forcing about 100 refugees back to Syria every day since January.
The rights group recently released a report that said many people in southern Turkey know about the forced removals. The report also strongly criticized the refugee agreement reached last month between Turkey and the European Union.
John Dalhuisen is the European and Central Asian director for the group. He said “in their desperation to seal their borders, EU leaders have willfully ignored the simplest of facts: Turkey is not a safe country for Syrian refugees and is getting less safe by the day.”
He said the deal to return Syrian refugees and others from Greece to Turkey can only be carried out with the “hardest of hearts” and a “disregard for international law.”
Amnesty says children and a woman who was to give birth in a month are among those who have been forced to return to Syria.
Turkey has not answered the report.
About three million Syrian refugees are in Turkey now. That is more than any other country in the area.
Turkey and the EU agreed that war refugees who arrive in Greece would be sent to Turkey after their requests for asylum are considered. Under the deal, for every Syrian sent to Turkey, one refugee would be settled in a European Union country.
In exchange, the EU would help pay the cost of caring for the refugees. Also, Turkish citizens would be able to travel to EU countries without visas. The EU also agreed to quickly consider Turkey’s request to join the organization.
The agreement was reached to help deal with the worst refugee crisis in Europe since World War II. But human rights groups say the deal is illegal. They criticize the way the agreement deals with people trying to escape war, poverty and terrorism.
On Friday, the UN refugee agency said the agreement should not be put into place until a process is created to protect refugees. And it said conditions in Greece and Turkey are worsening.
I’m Christopher Jones-Cruise.
VOA News writer Ken Schwartz wrote this story from Washington. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted it for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.
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Words in This Story
seal – v. to prevent someone from going into or through (an area or place)
disregard – n. the act of ignoring something or treating something as unimportant
asylum – n. protection given by a government to someone who has left another country in order to escape being harmed