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Executive Summary for April 21st

We review the latest developments related to refugee issues, including Turkish border guards killing Syrians fleeing conflict, Russians forcibly returning Uzbek citizens and the continuing exodus from Aleppo as the Syrian truce breaks.

Published on April 21, 2016 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

Turkish Border Guards ‘Kill 8 Syrians Fleeing Fighting’

Turkish border guards have been accused of shooting at sight and killing eight Syrians who were fleeing recent violence, according to footage from The Times. Most of the victims were women and children.

Abdmunem Kashkash, a lawyer who was with the group and managed to cross into Turkey unharmed, said that the guards were “_killing unarmed people“_ at the border, according to the same report.

Despite these killings that purportedly took place on April 17, the Turkish government says its open-door policy at the Syrian border remains unchanged.

“Certain restrictions may apply due to special circumstances, but the policy hasn’t changed,” a senior Turkish official told The Times.

Turkish authorities have denied that they shot at Syrians.

Meanwhile, Syrian military attacks on armed opposition groups near the Turkish border hit two IDP camps on April 13 and 15, causing at least 3,000 people to flee, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW). Those who fled the fighting were unable to cross the border to Turkey.

Several human rights groups have urged that Turkey immediately reopen its borders to Syrians who have been forced into IDP camps at the southwest border and are now fleeing direct attacks.

“Under fire even in makeshift border camps, Syrian victims of Turkey’s border pushbacks are paying the price,” said Gerry Simpson, senior refugee researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“As the world struggles to end attacks on Syrian civilians, it should at least support Turkey to open its border to people fleeing the conflict, and stop turning them into sitting ducks.”

The organization added that the Syrian military should immediately end indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas and uphold its obligation to take all feasible precautions to avoid killing or injuring civilians, including creating camps for displaced people.

Russia ‘Forcibly Returning’ Uzbek Asylum Seekers

Hundreds of asylum seekers and refugees have been deported and others abducted as part of forced returns from Russia to Uzbekistan, where they may have been subjected to torture, saidAmnesty International in a briefing released today.

It appears that in cases where Russia has denied extradition requests from the Uzbek government, Uzbek security forces were granted “free reign to abduct wanted nationals from Russian soil,” according to the report.

“The Russian authorities are not simply turning a blind eye to torture and injustice in Uzbekistan, they are lending a helping hand,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s director for Europe and Central Asia.

The Uzbek authorities have routinely used reasons such as the “fight against terrorism”, and tackling “anti-state” activity to justify political persecution of opponents and members of Islamist groups, according to Amnesty.

“The Uzbekistani authorities will go to any length to ensure the return of their nationals to face “justice” and the Russian authorities have been only too willing to oblige them,” said Dalhuisen.

Uzbek civilians, especially Muslims, continue to flee the country due to crackdowns, detention and torture. The Andijan Massacre that took place in 2005, when national security troops started firing at protesters and claiming that the gathering was organized by radical Islamist movements, is one of the better known incidents of government-led violence.

U.N. ‘Deeply Concerned’ by Aleppo Exodus

The United Nations has “expressed deep worry over the fate of more than 40,000 Syrians who have fled fighting near the northern city of Aleppo that has escalated in recent days,” according to a Reuters report. The U.N. issued the statement on April 20, as fighting exacerbated with Syrian government forces restarting an offensive despite the recent agreement on an extended truce.

“Taking into account the previous influx of over 75,000 internally displaced people into the Azaz sub-district in January and February, humanitarian needs are expected to rise exponentially,” U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

The medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said “there were now more than 100,000 people trapped on the Syrian side of the Turkish border, with 35,000 having fled in the past week from camps that had been taken over by Islamic State fighters or had become too close to the front line,” according to the same report.

Government-led airstrikes that killed 40 people in an open market in rebel-controlled territory coupled with intense fighting in other parts of the country broke a fragile six-week-old cease-fire.

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