27. September 2012 · Kommentare deaktiviert für Syrische Flüchtlinge und Asylsystem in der Türkei · Kategorien: Syrien, Türkei · Tags:


by Susanne Güsten

[…] Asylum is not on offer for Africans and other non-Europeans in Turkey, which retains a “geographical limitation” to the Geneva Refugee Convention, effectively limiting asylum to refugees from Europe.

But Ivorians are only the most recent arrivals in Kumkapi. They join thousands of Iraqis, Iranians and Afghans, as well as Somalis and Congolese, who have run as far as they can and now find themselves unable to proceed further and stuck in a country that precludes asylum for refugees fleeing events occurring outside of Europe.

For many years, the U.N. agency has picked up the slack in Turkey, screening asylum applications and resettling refugees in countries like the United States, Canada and Australia. But with the number of refugees swelling drastically and resettlement quotas shrinking, the system is headed for a breakdown.

Nearly 29,000 incoming refugees registered with the United Nations in Turkey by Aug. 31 this year, according to figures provided by the agency. That figure does not include an estimated 125,000 Syrian refugees sheltering in camps and private accommodation in the southern border area. It also excludes thousands of unregistered refugees, like those in Kumkapi.

Even so, only France, Germany, Italy, Belgium and Sweden, among E.U. countries, received more asylum applications in all of last year, according to Eurostat figures.

The figure in Turkey is sharply higher than an average of 10,000 to 15,000 annually in recent years, according to Multeci-Der, a private group supporting refugee rights. “It is a record number for Turkey,” the association’s chairman, Taner Kilic, said last week.

At the same time, resettlement quotas are down from about 6,500 places last year to fewer than 6,000 this year, according to the U.N. agency, with the United States accepting about 4,000 refugees in 2012 and Canada offering 900 places. Australia is taking 630 refugees, with Norway and Finland offering 150 places each and Germany taking 100 refugees.

“A refugee entering Turkey today will wait for a year and a half just to register with the U.N.H.C.R. and another year for his first interview with them,” Mr. Kilic said. “That’s a two-and-a-half-year wait, just for your first chance to plead your case.” With follow-up interviews and appeals, the average wait for a decision is four to five years, he added, with some refugees waiting seven to eight years before they even become eligible for resettlement.

Third countries then choose among the eligible refugees according to criteria like education, language skills and nation of origin. “Afghans, for example, currently have virtually zero chance of being resettled,” Mr. Kilic said, citing cases of recognized refugees who have been waiting 10 years in what are often miserable conditions.

It is the uncertainty of that wait more than anything else that leads refugees to resort to the desperate action of boarding a smugglers’ boat like one that sank off Turkey’s western coast last month, drowning more than 60 refugees on their way to Europe, Mr. Kilic said.

While Turkey does grant temporary protection to registered refugees while their applications are being considered by the U.N. agency, it requires them to sit out the wait in one of 53 provincial towns to which they are assigned by the Interior Ministry. “But no one tells them how to get there or what to do when they arrive, no one asks where they will sleep, what they will eat and how they will survive,” Mr. Kilic said.

Asylum seekers are neither entitled to material assistance nor granted work permits, leaving them at the mercies of provincial authorities and driven to work illegally. They are frequently subject to detention and deportation by the Turkish authorities without recourse to legal appeal.

It is criticism of such conditions that led lawmakers to draft Turkey’s first asylum law, submitted to Parliament just before the summer recess and due to be voted on soon after it reconvenes next week. The draft law has been greeted with praise by activists and academics, who were consulted in its preparation by the Interior Ministry to an extent that is highly unusual in Turkey.

“They invited us to the ministry and sat down with us, and we went over the law for two days, article by article, and then they did the same with the academics,” Mr. Kilic said. Officials drafting the law also traveled to Strasbourg and Brussels to consult the European Court of Human Rights and the European Commission. The result is an asylum law that not only meets E.U. standards, but exceeds them, experts agree.

“The law has been deeply influenced by the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights,” specifically addressing the issues raised by the court, Kemal Kirisci, a professor of political science at the Bosporus University and one of the country’s leading experts on asylum issues, said in an interview last week. The draft law, which was supported in committee by all parties represented in Parliament, “puts the accent on human rights rather than on security,” he said.

There is just one problem, activists like Mr. Kilic say: The new asylum law will not extend asylum to refugees from outside Europe, because it does not lift the geographical limitation.

“Over all it is a good law, but in my view as long as the geographical limitation is maintained, it remains problematic,” Mr. Kilic said. “We will continue to depend on the U.N. to resettle refugees in third countries, and if those countries will not take them — perhaps pointing out that our economy is now stronger than theirs and that the refugees have fled to our country, not theirs — then we have a deadlocked system.”

But Mr. Kirisci is among those who argued for keeping the geographical limitation in place. “If Turkey were to lift the geographical limitation without being a member of the European Union, I think it would fall into a situation worse than that Greece, an E.U. member, has found itself in over the last couple of years,” he said, pointing to the overwhelming numbers of refugees there and the international criticism of Greece’s handling of the situation.

Turkey would have to lift the geographical limitation to accede to the European Union, Mr. Kirisci conceded. But for now, Turkey is within its rights under international law in maintaining the restriction, he said.

“Why should Turkey give away such a right without European Union membership itself?” Mr. Kirisci said. “I see this as a hard bargaining chip with the European Union”.


Beitrag teilen

Kommentare geschlossen.