PRESS RELEASE: Pazarkule is experiencing AFTER WHAT?

The announcements that the borders with Europe were opened on 27.02.2020 were perceived as allowing those who wished to pass through the European borders easily, and it has been observed that since this date, many refugees and migrants began to accumulate on the banks of the Meriç River between Turkey and Greece, and especially around the Pazarkule border gate. After a 30-day wait of “hope” in an environment where rights such as life, security, shelter, health and nutrition are violated and we watch the most brutal forms of state violence on live broadcasts, tent areas in Pazarkule were dispersed, burned, and the waiting areas were destroyed, citing the Covid-19 outbreak. Refugees and immigrants were taken away from the border area by getting on buses.

In the statement made by the Minister of Interior on 29.03.2019, it was stated that such a decision was taken due to the epidemic threat and that 5,800 people who were still waiting in Edirne were taken to removal centers in nine provinces. In the continuation of the statement, it was stated that the transitions would continue after the end of the epidemic, and even at the date of the announcement, there were transitions.

In the media reports and in our interviews with some people who went through this process and were taken to the removal centers in Malatya, Osmaniye and Kocaeli, it was stated that they were deprived of their freedom at the removal centers for 14-15 days, their phones were taken, many of them even their relatives, while Pazarkule was evacuated and after that, without adequate information. It was stated that he could not provide information.

In the interviews, it was understood that the first groups removed from Malatya and Osmaniye removal centers since the end of the quarantine period on April 10, were taken to Çanakkale and İzmir, the centers of irregular sea crossings to Europe, for an inexplicable reason. Those who were taken to Çanakkale were released after being detained for a while at the removal center in Ayvacık; however, it was claimed that he was taken to the Ayvacık Removal Center again upon the news in the foreign press. It is understood that those who were taken to İzmir were kept in İzmir Harmandalı Removal Center during the curfew applied in 31 provinces, including İzmir, on 11-12 April due to the Covid-19 outbreak. These people, who were detained without being informed about the proceedings and decisions made against them, were left in the middle of the street without any information after the end of the curfew. Those who arrived at the Izmir bus station by walking or by their own vehicles, which is about 25 kilometers to return to the provinces where they are registered or live, faced intercity travel restrictions and exorbitant bus tickets due to the epidemic. After waiting for about 24 hours at the İzmir bus station in groups without the need for shelter, nutrition and hygiene, with the support of non-governmental organizations that intervened, those who got on the buses with special permissions were allowed to return to the provinces where they are registered/live and to the provinces close to them. A similar process was experienced in Şanlıurfa, and with the support of a non-governmental organization, it was possible for people to go to the cities where they were registered.

In the following days, some of the groups left from the removal centers after Pazarkule and the quarantine process, including families, the elderly and children, were sent to the provinces where they were registered, while some of them were sent to the provinces where they were registered or in groups, regardless of the provinces they lived in before, in İzmir, Niğde, Trabzon, Bursa, Mersin , Gümüşhane, Eskişehir and other provinces, and then to other provinces again; that is, they were left to their fate by constantly moving from one city to another and without the need for shelter, except in a few cases.

In the interviews made with people who were taken to different provinces and left on the streets, they could not return to the provinces of registration or the provinces they lived in due to financial difficulties and travel restrictions; In this process, it was stated that they were forced to stay in open areas such as parks, bus stations, school gardens, they became weak due to long periods of travel and malnutrition, and they could not reach food and nutrition opportunities due to financial difficulties.

Following the human tragedy experienced by those who have accumulated on the Edirne border and along the banks of the Meriç River since February 27, believing the official statements, refugees-immigrants were first deprived of their freedom; At this point, with the spread of a contagious and dangerous epidemic with a high rate of spread in Turkey and all over the world, isolation and staying at home are recommended within the scope of the measures already taken, and in this context, curfews specific to age groups and some settlements have been declared, especially sheltering, hygiene have been left to the streets and fates of the provinces they do not know, deprived of adequate nutrition opportunities, and have been left face to face with the epidemic. It is clear that these people, who are facing a new tragedy, cannot access rights and services, especially housing and health, in cities they have never known before, let alone financial impossibilities, in the face of the serious epidemic threat.

For all these reasons, our call to the authorities:

  • Ensuring that refugees and migrants quarantined in various removal centers after the Pazarkule tent area is evacuated, go directly to the provinces where they are registered or of their choice, quickly and safely, without being circulated from city to city, without causing them to stay on the streets;
  • In line with the previous explanations, the temporary protection, international protection or residence permits of the registered ones continue without any interruption or cancellation;
  • For those who do not have any previous registration, registration of asylum or residence in the city they want according to their demands and needs;
  • Taking necessary precautions with the Covid-19 outbreak while these processes are in progress;
  • In the process that started on February 27, giving the necessary social assistance so that these people, who left their homes with the perception that the borders of Europe were opening, quit their jobs and lost what they had in their hands, to recover even a little in the cities they returned to and to continue their lives;
  • To benefit from physical and psychological health services immediately, taking into account the process experienced;
  • It is to inform the public transparently about the whole process and to take all necessary measures to prevent similar human tragedies.


Association for Solidarity with Refugees


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