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April 5, 2016

Europe begins deporting migrants back to Turkey

Essential question

How do international laws and conventions govern the way nations interact with one another?

People fleeing war and economic crisis in the Middle East, Asia and Africa are being turned away from Europe.

The first deportations of migrants began in Greece Monday as people were ferried from the Greek island of Lesbos back to Turkey across the same sea some had crossed just months before.

A deal between Turkey and the European Union aims to stem the unprecedented number of migrants by deporting some, mostly Pakistani and Afghans, back to Turkey. In exchange, some Syrian refugees will be transported to Europe for resettlement.

Critics argue that deporting migrants back to Turkey is inhumane and leaves them vulnerable to Turkish police and unfair policies. Only Syrian refugees have received some form of protection. Human rights groups claim the deportations violate international refugee conventions.

“These are individuals who are fleeing horrific scenes of war and the kind of abuses we know from Aleppo, for example, and we are playing some type of ping-pong with them,” said Amnesty International Spokesperson Gauri Van Gulik.

In exchange for cooperating, Turkey will receive money, economic aid and consideration of its application to join the European Union.

Key terms

deportation — the lawful act of removing a foreigner from a country

migrant — a person who moves from place to place usually to find work; the United Nations does not consider migrants to be refugees

refugee —a person who flees for refuge or safety, especially to a foreign country, at a time of political upheaval or war

Warm up questions (before watching the video)
  1. What is a refugee?
  2. Where is Turkey? What can you tell about life in Turkey from its position on the globe?
  3. Why are people trying to get from some countries in the Middle East to Europe?
Critical thinking questions (after watching the video)
  1. Why are some migrants from Europe being resettled in Turkey?
  2. Why is the European Union dealing with Syrians differently than that of other migrants seeking economic opportunities?
  3. Why are some human rights advocates upset about the deportation of migrants from Europe to Turkey?
  4. If you were the head of a European nation, how would you handle this situation?
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