Turkey is forcibly sending Syrian refugees to an area of Syria near the border where it aims to set up a “safe zone” even though the conflict there has not ended, Amnesty International said in a report published on Friday, Reuters informed.
Human Rights Watch said in a separate report Friday that authorities had arbitrarily detained and deported dozens of Syrians to northern Syria between January and September.
Turkey currently hosts some 3.6 million refugees who fled Syria’s eight-year-long civil war. But, with Turkish public sentiment towards them souring, Ankara hopes to resettle up to two million in the planned safe zone in northeast Syria.
Ankara says more than 350,000 Syrian refugees have already voluntarily returned to their country.
In its report, Amnesty said refugees it had spoken to complained of being threatened or physically forced by Turkish police to sign documents stating that they were voluntarily returning to Syria.
“In reality, Turkey put the lives of Syrian refugees under serious danger by forcing them to return to a war zone,” the British-based human rights group said.
Amnesty said it believed the number of forced returns in recent months to be in the hundreds, based on interviews it conducted between July and October, but said it was able to confirm 20 cases.