HRW: Turkey killing Syrians on border
Aleppo under fire. Renewed hostilities in the northern city are expected to send more civilians fleeing for the Turkish border. Source: YouTube
Human Rights Watch says Turkish border guards continue to shoot and beat Syrian refugees trying to cross into Turkey from the war-torn country.
Border guards in March and April used excessive force against Syrians and a smuggler trying to reach Turkey, killing five, including a child and injuring 14 others, HRW said. The NGO called on Ankara to reopen its Syrian border to refugees.
Turkey, which has 2.7 million Syrian refugees, has rejected allegations of shooting at Syrian migrants, claiming that it has an open-door policy toward refugees. HRW researcher Gerry Simpson said: “Firing at traumatised men, women and children fleeing fighting and indiscriminate warfare is truly appalling.” The NGO claimed that border guards blocked thousands of migrants after artillery fire had hit their camps near the border on April 13 and 15.
The hostilities continue to threaten Syrians blocked from reaching Turkish territory, the NGO said, with witnesses saying on May 5 that three airstrikes hit the Kamuna camp sheltering 4,500 Syrian refugees near Sarmada in northern Idlib province, five kilometres south of the border. An independent humanitarian source said medics recovered 20 bodies, including two children, and that at least 37 people were injured, including 10 who lost limbs.
By April, Turkey said it had completed a third of its 911km rocket-resistant concrete border wall and was fortifying the rest of the demarcation.
“The EU shouldn’t just stand by and watch as Turkey uses live ammunition and rifle butts to stem the refugee flow,” opined Simpson. “EU officials should recognise that their red light for refugees to enter the EU gives Turkey a green light to close its border, exacting a heavy price on war-ravaged asylum seekers with nowhere else to go.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has condemned Europe for closing its borders to Syrians fleeing war; days after the resignation of his prime minister threw the refugee deal with the EU into doubt. Erdogan accused the EU of “cruelty”, saying the continent had shown “no mercy and no justice” to those fleeing Syria.
The United Nations warned this month that renewed fighting around Aleppo in northern Syria could force as many as 400,000 refugees to the Turkish frontier. Ankara announced this week that 386 people had been readmitted from Europe under the refugee deal. But the departure of its designer Ahmet Davutoglu at the end of the month has put the arrangement in jeopardy.