Turkey's role in the refugee crisis is crucial, but there is room for improvement

In an opinion adopted at the February plenary, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) said it recognised Turkey's efforts in hosting more than three million refugees, but stressed the need for it to grant them the non-discriminatory protection required by international law.

The EESC criticised the fact that refugees in Turkey faced "serious obstacles, shortcomings and problems as regards access to work and basic services, such as health and welfare, education and, more generally, integration into society."

On the other hand, EU Member States' performance in terms of resettlement and relocation of refugees continues to be disappointing, stressed rapporteur Dimitris Dimitriadis, adding that the EESC strongly condemned the xenophobic attitude of some Member States to the refugee crisis.

He said that the EESC was calling for the establishment of a mechanism which would monitor whether both sides were complying with the EU-Turkey Statement on Refugees, reached in 2016 to curb irregular migration.

The EESC also expressed concern about the state of human rights in Turkey, as well as the obstacles increasingly encountered by Turkish civil society organisations, given their important contribution to the humanitarian situation of refugees.

"It is a big challenge for a country to host so many migrants, but it does not take away the responsibility to receive them in a dignified manner," EESC members concluded during the discussion on the opinion. (ll)