SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Over the weekend, the European Union (EU) and Turkey reached a deal, in which Turkey has agreed to accept all asylum seekers landing in Greece in exchange for monetary compensation. In exchange, it will be easier for Turkish citizens to receive a European visa, and the EU will more highly consider Turkey’s entrance into the EU. However, many oppose the move since Turkey does not consider Syrians to be refugees, giving them instead the status of guest.

Neil Grungras, Executive Director of the Organization for Refuge, Asylum, and Migration (ORAM), released the following statement today reacting to the reports:

“The Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration urges the European Union to consider the extreme dangers facing exceptionally vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers in Turkey, and to allow them to seek asylum in the EU. Member states including Germany and Sweden have already gone to great lengths to welcome and protect refugees in the face of enormous political fallout. We urge these and other EU states to exhibit compassion as they fulfill their legal and humanitarian obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights. Unfortunately, sexual and gender minorities are still regularly harassed, humiliated, beaten and subjected to extreme discrimination Turkey. Refugees in particular can seldom access protection by Turkish authorities.

“Exceptionally vulnerable refugees, including LGBTs, are often at higher risk of becoming victims of violence and other forms of persecution in transit countries including Turkey. It is often other refugees who perpetrate this violence. ORAM urges the EU to be thorough in its review of refugees crossing into Greece to assure protection of individuals at risk of abuse, whether in Turkey or in Greece.

“There are multiple steps that EU officials should take today to protect the lives of exceptionally vulnerable refugees. Frontex and Greek officials at all levels must be trained to identify and protectdesignated vulnerable populations, including LGBT refugees. Government officials should seek out expert assistance from the civil sector — including from LGBT groups. Protection must be guaranteed for vulnerable asylum seekers who are at risk of being attacked by fellow refugees, and specific detention facilities should be opened for LGBT persons to ensure their safety

“Lastly, Europe must relocate exceptionally vulnerable refugees and prioritize these cases. With the refugee system saturated both in Turkey and the EU, those most vulnerable often lack system access, leaving them exposed to new dangers. Only concerted attention by EU officials can protect LGBT and other vulnerable refugees. These measures cannot wait, lest the EU fail in its obligation to fundamental principles of human dignity and refugee protection.”

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About the Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration (ORAM)

Founded in 2008, ORAM specializes in the protection of exceptionally vulnerable refugees, including LGBT refugees. A thought leader in refugee protection, we are trusted by governments, international agencies, aid organizations and refugees alike.

ORAM’s essential work enables the international community to protect exceptionally vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers and safeguards the integrity of the international refugee protection system through capacity-building, cutting-edge research, innovative resources and tools. ORAM also provides refugees with legal assistance and the information they need to access refugee protection systems.

You can read more about ORAM’s work by visiting the organization’s website, and social media via Facebook andTwitter.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, March 22, 2016
CONTACT: Kristofer Eisenla, LUNA+EISENLA media
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