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Thursday, 10 October 2019

Stop forced deportations from Turkey to Syria

Cross-posted from The Syria Campaign.

Arabic version.

Turkish version.

Dear Commissioner Hahn, High Representative Mogherini and High Commissioner Filippo Grandi,

We, the undersigned Syrian and international human rights organizations, are writing to ask you to urge the Turkish authorities not to deport Syrian refugees from Istanbul and other cities to Syria, where they face a real risk of detention, torture, and death.

On 20 August the Istanbul governor's office announced that Syrian refugees in Istanbul who are registered under the country's temporary protection policy in other provinces must return there by 30 October. Turkey's Interior Ministry has also said that unregistered Syrians found in Istanbul will be sent to other as yet unspecified provinces in Turkey. Since late 2017, Istanbul and nine other provinces have stopped registering newly arriving Syrian asylum seekers, forcing many to live in Turkey without a temporary protection permit.

In addition, in recent months, xenophobic sentiment towards Syrian refugees in Turkey has escalated , fueled in part by hostile rhetoric from politicians across the political spectrum who have promised voters to send refugees home.

Since mid-July, activists and human rights organizations have documented many cases in which the authorities have arrested and detained registered Syrian refugees outside their registered province. The arrests have included those traveling from other parts of Turkey to their registered provinces, as well as unregistered Syrians. The authorities have coerced Syrians into signing “voluntary return” documents before deporting them to Syria.

In July and August, 6,160 and 8,901 Syrians — both registered and unregistered — were deported to Syria from Turkey through the Bab al-Hawa border crossing, according to the Syrian immigration authorities' website. This is a significant increase compared to previous months and coincides with the July policy change. These figures may also include Syrians intercepted and deported shortly after they crossed into Turkey, a practice that has been going on for a number of years.

Reports from media and activists in touch with our organizations confirm that the Turkish police have beaten detainees, denied them medical care and, in some cases, sent them to Idlib and northern Aleppo, where more than 1,180 civilians have been killed since February 2019, according to the local monitoring organization, the Response Coordination Group.

By deporting refugees and asylum seekers to a war zone or to areas where there is a real risk of persecution, Turkish authorities are in violation of their obligations under international law, and specifically the prohibition on refoulement. The Syrians being sent back not only face being caught up in the offensive in Idlib governorate but are at risk of arrest and torture at the hands of the Syrian government or armed groups.

Syrians we have spoken to describe how afraid they are now in Turkey. They stay at home to avoid arrest, including once they have returned to the cities where they were registered.

In August, the EU announced a further € 127 million to boost its Emergency Social Safety Net program for refugees in Turkey. In total, the EU has pledged € 6 billion in refugee funding to Turkey, while the UNHCR continues to support Syrian refugees in the country.

However, neither the European Commission, EU member states, nor UNHCR have spoken publicly about these deportations, despite the clear risk that large numbers of Syrians in Turkey's cities now face. They should press the Turkish authorities to stop all forced return of Syrians, including an end to coercing Syrians into signing voluntary repatriation forms, and to give those already deported to Syria the option to return to Turkey.

Member states, the European Commission and UNHCR should also commit to increasing their presence in Turkey's removal centers to ensure that Syrians are not coerced into signing voluntary repatriation forms.

If needed, they should support Turkish authorities to register unregistered Syrians and ensure ongoing financial support to Turkey to better protect Syrian refugees.

We also urge EU member states to resettle significant numbers of Syrian refugees from Turkey.


Adopt a Revolution
Cairo Institute for Human Rights
Human Rights Watch
Irish Syria Solidarity Movement
PÊL- Civil Waves Bell - 
Syrian British Council
Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression
Syrians for Truth and Justice And Justice
Syrian Network for Human Rights
Syria Solidarity UK
The Syria Campaign
Women Now for Development

Thursday, 3 October 2019

The Syrian Apple: Art by Amany Al-Ali in Lancaster, October 18-29

Rethink Rebuild Society and the Children’s War Museum are presenting an exhibition of art work from Idlib at The Storey gallery in Lancaster from October 18th to October 29th.

The Syrian Apple features art by Amany Al-Ali from Idlib, Syria. Her work reflects the feelings and experiences many Syrians of the journey and the fate of what was once their green revolution.

‘I made sure that I depicted the green apple as complete, healthy and beautiful in all the drawings in order to emphasise that the Syrian Revolution is still strong, alive and beautiful,’ explained Amany. ‘For me, the Syrian Revolution is an idea, and ideas do not die. Ideas cannot be killed or extinguished. An idea may test the patience of those who carry it; it might transform them or make them into heroes as they die for it.’

The exhibition also includes photography by Young Lens, Humans of Syria, and photojournalist Antonio Olmos. Young Lens are a group of young activists who have been recording their experience of the Syrian revolution since 2011. Humans of Syria are creating profiles of some of the thousands of children who have been displaced within Syria. Antonio Olmos documented the Syrian refugee journey across Europe in 2015.

The launch event is at 6.30 pm on Friday October 18th at the lecture theatre, and will include a film of interviews with some of the Syrian refugees who have come to the UK.

Pictured: Illustration by Amany Al-Ali from the latest issue of Syria Notes.