PM Rutte, asylum deal criticised by humanitarian groups

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Child asylum seeker (Photo: Staff Sgt. Chris Fahey/Wikimedia Commons). (Child asylum seeker (Photo: Staff Sgt. Chris Fahey/Wikimedia Commons))

Four humanitarian groups wrote a scathing letter about the asylum deal the European Union wants to make with Turkey to Prime Minister Mark Rutte. "Not borders, but people must be protected", they write. "It is time for Europe to put human rights central again." NOS reports.

European leaders are discussing at an European summit on Thursday and Friday. The deal is intended to put an end to the massive numbers of asylum seekers entering Europe.

But Oxfam Novib, Save the Children, Dokters van de Wereld and Stichting Vluchteling feel that the Turkey asylum deal is in violation of the asylum seekers' rights. The organizations write that the measures "are only aimed to defuse Europe's own political crisis". And the deal will endanger the lives of "tens of thousands of people fleeing war, poverty and violence".

"The selective border closures that currently leave tens of thousands of people in degrading situations and the imminent exchange of people with Turkey, are unworthy of Europe", the humanitarian organizations write.

"We are particularly concerned that people's rights are being exchanged for political interests", Pim Kraan, director of Save the Children, said to broadcaster NOS. "In the refugee camps we see more and more people with psychological problems. People have nothing to lose. There is no shelter, no protection against the cold and aid agencies have no access. We tried to help people sitting between the barbed wires with newborn babies, but we can not reach it. These are not the moral values on which Europe is built. It really can't go on like this."

Kraan admits that Europe is facing a challenge, but according to him, it hasn't nearly reached the level of the Kosovo-crisis. "I think it is important that political leadership is shown. We should not say that the welfare state is being undermined by the refugee problem. That is not true. We should not say that half of the asylum seekers are fortune hunters. That's not true. People are being bombarded with unnecessary and false facts", Kraan said to the broadcaster.

The Turkey asylum deal involves Turkey taking back asylum seekers who make the crossing into Greece. In return Europe will give money for asylum camps in Turkey and take recognized asylum seekers from these camps. The EU will also quickly eliminate visa requirements for Turks wanting to come to Europe and accelerated negotiations for Turkey’s admittance to the EU.

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