Turkey: UN agency ‘deeply regrets’ deportation of Iraqi refugee
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today expressed “deep regret” over Turkey’s deportation of an Iraqi, although the agency had accorded him refugee status and issued him the relevant documentation.
“UNHCR urged the government of Turkey to allow the refugee to remain in Turkey,” spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis told a news briefing in Geneva, noting that the refugee, who was deported on 3 March, came from violence-wracked central Iraq. “Regretfully, the Government did not respond to our letter or other attempts to communicate with them on this case.”
UNHCR has advised governments that Iraqis from southern and central Iraq should be favourably considered as refugees under the 1951 Convention, given the high prevalence of serious human rights violations, and has called upon States not to forcibly return any Iraqi from those areas.
“UNHCR appeals to the Turkish authorities to refrain from any such deportations and to all governments in the region to keep their borders open for Iraqis fleeing persecution,” Ms. Pagonis said.
UNHCR estimates that some 4 million Iraqis have fled their homes fearing generalized violence and targeted persecution. Of these, 1.9 million are displaced inside Iraq, while some 2 million have sought refuge in neighbouring countries such as Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and Turkey.
As of 1 January, UNHCR Turkey had registered 2,719 Iraqi refugees, most of them living in Istanbul and provincial cities in Central Anatolia where the authorities assign refugees and asylum-seekers. The agency believes the actual number of Iraqis in Turkey may be much higher.