New reception centres for asylum seekers and refugees will be built in Turkey, funded by an € 80 million EU project. The centres are expected to be ready by 2012 and will be opened in Ankara, Erzurum, Izmir, Van, Gaziantep and Kayseri. Each centre will have the capacity to host 750 people.
The Istanbul-based Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly (HCA), an ECRE member, finds the fact that the new centres will combine the tasks of reception and detention highly problematic: “We are very concerned that some of the asylum seeker residents in these facilities will be subject to detention. Asylum seekers are entitled to free movement, and should be able to leave these facilities to access social, legal and medical services, and make connections with local communities”.
The centres are being developed within the framework of a twinning project between the Dutch and British governments. So far the Turkish government has not sought input on the development of these centers from HCA or its partners in the Turkey Coordination for Refugee Rights, a new refugee advocacy platform consisting of the country’s leading human rights organizations.
The announcement of the EU-funded project comes at a time when the negotiations of a EU-Turkey readmission agreement are close to completion. The agreement poses a certain number of problems, notably in terms of refoulement to countries such as Tunisia, Iran or Iraq. Last week, the ECtHR decided in three out of four cases involving refugees recognized by UNHCR that Turkey would violate Article 3 ECHR if the expulsion orders were enforced. The Court also criticised the unlawfulness and the conditions of their detention in a police station and in some of the detention centres where they had been held awaiting deportation.