European Council president Donald Tusk has praised Turkey for the way it has dealt with Syrian refugees, saying the country is "the best example" in the world.
Mr Tusk, the former Polish prime minister, made the comments after travelling with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to a refugee camp at Gaziantep near the Syrian border, which hosts 4,800 refugees, on Saturday.
He said at a press conference: “[Turkey is the] best example for the whole world how we should treat refugees. No one has a right to lecture Turkey what to do.”
Mr Tusk added: "This is not only a political and formal assessment... this is also my very private and personal feeling.”
Turkey is home to over 2.5 million Syrian refugees, but its refugee camps can only house around 200,000. It is alleged that Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's government is illegally deporting thousands of refugees back to Syria without hearing their applications for asylum.
John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s director for Europe and Central Asia, voiced concerns about refugees’ living conditions in Turkey.
Mr Dalhuisen told The Independent this week: “Turkey is not a safe country for Syrian refugees and is getting less safe by the day.”
“Far from pressuring Turkey to improve the protection it offers Syrian refugees, the EU is in fact incentivising the opposite.”
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed that at least 16 people seeking sanctuary in Turkey had been shot dead up to the end of March, including three children.
“It’s in all areas. It happens to people coming from Idlib, Aleppo, Isis areas, Kurdish areas,” a spokesperson told The Independent.
Despite these concerns, Turkey has been declared a “safe country” by the EU. In return for taking back refugees, the Erdogan government will receive £4.6bn in aid from the European Union, and its citizens will win the right to free movement through the Schengen area.
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