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United Nations High Commission for Refugees: The EU-Turkey Agreement is De-Facto On Hold

The UNHCR states that the agreement between Turkey and EU on a way to deal with the refugee crisis has, in reality, collapsed. At the same time it underlines the lack of deliberations between the two sides as well as the inability of the humanitarian organizations to operate in Turkey.
In an interview he gave to Agence Europe, Vincent Cochetel, head of the UNHCR European office stated that the recent developments in Turkey, after the failed coup attempt, have given grounds to well founded questions concerning the capability if
humanitarian organizations to act in the country.

When asked about the current status in the agreement between EU-Turkey, Mr.Cochetel said that “it is too early to ascertain the extent to which the developments in Turkey will have a significant impact to the (refugee) arrivals in EU. Yet the agreement is de-facto on hold, since there are no negotiators (on the Turkish side) any more. Since the coup the Turkish officers who operated as mediators have returned to their countries and, therefore, relocations have stopped. At the same time the coup attempt has created complications as to the achievement of several goals (as these were set) in the March 18 agreement”.

When asked to evaluate the application of the agreement, he answered that, although there has been a small increase in the refugee influx towards Greece in the past two weeks the actual numbers remain very low and they are totally manageable by the Greek side. Mr. Cochetel also mentioned that the influx remains low since the refugees know that the path towards main Europe remains closed while the recent terrorist attacks are a further aspect which plays a role.

In a comment about the relocation mechanism, the head of the European UNHCR office, mentioned that it is operating at a slow pace since, out of 66.400 people who are to be relocated from Greece to other EU countries, only 2.681 have been relocated so far (according to data given by the Commission on July 27). Mr.Cochetel concluded that there are still problems in the registration of asylum requests in Greece while the other EU countries “even before the terrorist attacks, did not offer to accept refugees”.

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