2016-03-08 19:00:00

UN refugee agency concerned about EU Turkey proposal

(Vatican Radio)  Vincent Cochetel, Europe regional director of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), has said a European deal to send masses of refugees back to Turkey would flout their right to protection under international law.

Listen to Peter Kenny's report:

Cochetel has told a UN news briefing, "The collective expulsion of foreigners is prohibited under the European convention of human rights."

The UNHCR, took note of the March 7 statement of the EU heads of State and Turkey concerning refugees but said it was concerned with some aspects of the proposal.

Turkey hosts close to 3 million refugees and has made enormous contributions for years and just recently adopted a work regulation for Syrian refugees.

Yet due to the enormity of the task, Turkey still struggles to provide for all the basic needs of the swelling Syrian population. Still the UN refuge agency welcomed the EU's financial contribution to support Turkey and the refugee communities in Turkey.

UNHCR spokesman William Spindler, said, however, that after the meeting between the EU and Turkey, the refugee agency was not a party to nor privy to the details of implementation.

He said, "On the face of what appears to have been agreed, we are, however, concerned about any arrangement that involves the blanket return of all individuals from one country to another without sufficiently spelt out refugee protection safeguards in keeping with international obligations."

The UN refugee agency said an asylum-seeker should only be returned to a third State if strict criteria are met that prevents the person being protected from persecution from the place he or she is fleeing and that they can enjoy social assistance where they are sent.

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