Refugees protesting against the deal on the island of Chios in April 2016. Photo: picture alliance / NurPhoto

A policy note of the RSA team and partner of PRO ASYL in Greece lays open the fatal consequences the EU-Turkey-deal has had for refugees in the twelve months since its implementation.

The EU-Tur­key State­ment (»EU-Tur­key deal«) that came into force on March 20th 2016 has trans­for­med the socio-poli­ti­cal dyna­mics cha­rac­te­ri­zing the so-cal­led refu­gee cri­sis nar­ra­ti­ve as well as the func­tion of the EU-hot­spots on the Greek islands. It pro­du­ced a new sta­tus quo regar­ding deve­lo­p­ments of refu­gee and migra­ti­on diplo­ma­cy in the regi­on and bey­ond, as well as on the ground.

Refugees in limbo

The EU-Tur­key deal had direct and sub­stan­ti­al reper­cus­sions on about 14,000 refu­gees that have beco­me its sub­jects in March. Refu­gee Sup­port Aege­an (RSA) mem­bers have for months moni­to­red deve­lo­p­ments on the islands of Les­bos, Chi­os, Leros, Kos and Samos. The deal has tur­ned the Greek islands into a buf­fer zone whe­re refu­gees in lim­bo are strugg­ling to sur­vi­ve amidst the dete­rio­ra­ti­on of living con­di­ti­ons. Serious mal­func­tion and instru­men­ta­liza­ti­on of asyl­um pro­ce­du­res based on poli­ti­cal con­side­ra­ti­ons lea­ve the most vul­nerable of them expo­sed to acu­te wea­ther con­di­ti­ons, explo­ita­ti­on, vio­lence and seve­re abuse.

European »Nauru islands«

Lives have been lost in the EU-hot­spots due to poli­ti­cal impe­ra­ti­ves and no one took respon­si­bi­li­ty for the­se deaths. Mean­while local socie­ties on the islands have been used so far as Euro­pean »Nau­ru islands« with the ten­si­ons bet­ween locals and refu­gees escala­ting over the last few months and incre­asing xeno­pho­bia and racism among the locals.

The RSA team in Greece

Refu­gee Sup­port Aege­an (RSA) is a non-pro­fit orga­ni­sa­ti­on in sup­port of refu­gees. The RSA team in Athens, on Les­bos and Chi­os moni­tors human rights vio­la­ti­ons and offers legal aid and social sup­port for asyl­um see­kers and refu­gees. RSA is the imple­men­ting part­ner of the Foun­da­ti­on PRO ASYL pro­ject RSPA (Refu­gee Sup­port Pro­gram Aegean).