“As a first reaction I am deeply concerned about any arrangement that would involve the blanket return of anyone from one country to another, without spelling out the refugee protection safeguards under international law,” he said on Tuesday.
At the heart of the deal between the EU and Turkey is a controversial refugee exchange programme. Under the plan, Syrian refugees on the Greek islands would be returned to Turkey, while European countries would take asylum seekers currently living in Turkey.
Speaking to the European parliament in Strasbourg, Grandi said asylum seekers should only be returned to other states if there was a guarantee that that they would not then be sent back to the place they had fled. The country of return also had to ensure asylum seekers had access to work, healthcare, education and social assistance, Grandi said.
Separately, Vincent Cochetel, regional director for #Europe at the office of the UN high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR), said an EU commitment to resettle 20,000 refugees over two years, on a voluntary basis, remained “very low”.
A senior UN official says he is very concerned that a hasty EU deal with Turkey could leave Syrian refugees unprotected and at risk of being sent back to a war zone.