Refugee Deal Would 'Break Business Model of Smugglers'

But humanitarian groups say Turkey-EU plan would be 'inhumane'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 8, 2016 9:22 AM CST
Refugee Deal Would 'Break Business Model of Smugglers'
An exhausted refugee sleeps as a girl grimaces after their arrival at Piraeus, near Athens, on Tuesday. European Union leaders have drafted a possible deal with Ankara to return thousands of migrants to Turkey and said they were confident a full agreement could be reached at a summit next week.   (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

A possible deal between Turkey and the European Union to handle the ongoing migrant crisis is being hailed as a "breakthrough" by EU leaders after an outline was drafted Tuesday, the AP reports. This "one-for-one" arrangement would mean that in exchange for every migrant in Europe that Turkey takes back (including any plucked from the EU's territorial waters), the EU will agree to resettle what CNN refers to as one "legitimate" refugee who would qualify for asylum, which probably means mostly Syrian refugees. The deal is designed to keep migrants out of the hands of smugglers and human traffickers and to keep many from making the dangerous journey. "We will break the business model of smugglers exploiting human misery and make clear that the only viable way to come to Europe is through legal channels," European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Tuesday, per Deutsche Welle.

Turkey already shelters about 2.7 million refugees, most Syrian, and if the deal is finalized, it could result in thousands more flooding back in. The EU would pick up part of the tab, as well as expedite talks on bringing Turkey into the union and streamline the visa process for Turkish citizens. But some humanitarian groups are concerned. "The collective expulsion of foreigners is prohibited under the European Convention of Human Rights," a regional director for the UN's refugee agency says, per the Telegraph. UNICEF is also wary, with a rep noting "too many details still remain unclear" and that kids are especially at risk. "Children should not to be returned if they face risks including detention, forced recruitment, trafficking, or exploitation," the rep says. Amnesty International says the plan is "alarmingly short-sighted and inhumane," mainly because Turkey can't take care of the refugees already there. EU leaders hope to close the deal at their next summit in Brussels on March 17. (The crisis is only expected to get worse come spring.)

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