Germany said on Friday (1 April) that it would accept Syrian refugees under an EU-Turkey agreement that presupposed one Syrian refugee to be settled in Europe legally in return for every migrant that will be taken back by Turkey from Greece. Under the EU pact, all illegal migrants who have arrived in Greece since 20 March should be sent back to Turkey but the agreement calls on all parties to assess each case individually. Since 2011, when the Syrian conflict began, Turkey has accepted about 2.7 million refugees.
German Interior Minister, Tobias Plate, said that most of the new coming migrants would be families with children. The decision of the German government to accept more refugees comes after tensions that flared in Greek refugee camp over the uncertainty whether Turkey will indeed take refugees back. Following the riots in the refugee camp on the Greek island of Chios, three migrants were hospitalized and police had to use grenades to restore calm. The incident caused serious damage to the island’s Vial camp including the medical dispensary. Doctors of the World (MDM) commented that “the dispensary was almost entirely destroyed and security was no longer sufficient”.
Moreover, in the meantime, Amnesty International accused Turkey of illegally forcing hundreds of Syrians to return to their country on a daily basis. Such an allegation cast shadow over the migrant deal between Turkey and the EU. Ankara has always denied any such accusations, saying that it retains its open door policy. The Turkish authorities have not commented on Amnesty International’s findings yet. The controversial EU-Turkey deal enters into force today (4 April). Turkey is now due to start receiving migrants but it still remains unclear how the transfer will be implemented.