Saturday, May 14, 2016

EU-Turkey deal 'historic abdication' of Europe's moral duties (MSF)

EU-Turkey deal 'historic abdication' of Europe's moral duties (MSF)
Doctors Without Borders on Friday slammed the EU-Turkey deal to stem the influx of migrants to the bloc as a "historic abdication" of Europe's moral and legal responsibilities.

The medical charity, which goes by its French acronym MSF, voiced "profound concern" at the deal, under which Turkey has agreed to take back Syrian migrants landing on Greek islands in exchange for political incentives including billions of euros in aid and visa-free European travel for its citizens.

The agreement reached in March "effectively outsources caring for these people to Turkey," MSF chief Joanne Liu said in an open letter to EU member states and institutions.

"In an era of the greatest displacement of humanity in decades, this is a historic abdication of your moral and legal responsibilities," she said.

The Turkish agreement is the cornerstone of the EU's plan to curb a crisis that has seen 1.25 million Syrian, Iraqi, Afghan and other migrants enter since 2015.

But the deal was on Friday hanging by a thread after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan defiantly vowed Ankara would not adapt its counter-terror laws -- a key condition set by Brussels before granting Turks visa-free travel in the bloc.

The Turkish minister of European affairs, Volkan Bozkir, was set to meet Johannes Hahn, the commissioner for European enlargement negotiations, in Brussels on Friday morning.


    Liu warned that the deal was "sending a troubling signal to the rest of the world: countries can buy their way out of providing asylum."


"If replicated by many nations, the concept of refugee will cease to exist," she cautioned, depicting a dystopian world in which "people will be trapped in warzones unable to flee for their lives, with no choice but to stay and die."

    She also described Europe's accommodation of migrants and refugees stranded in Greece as "shameful".


"In camps on the Greek islands, there are virtually no safeguards in place," she said, pointing out that "women fear to go to the toilet once darkness falls... and men of all ages lose their dignity fighting over scraps of food."

Liu warned that the EU-Turkey deal risked putting aid agencies in the difficult position of deciding whether to "provide desperately needed aid in service of an anti-humanitarian policy that has the ultimate goal of border control."

"European countries, people are in need of your help and protection -- not just your money," she said, voicing outrage that Europe, the epicentre of World War II's massive displacement crisis, was "betraying the humanitarian principle of providing aid based on need alone."

"Is World War II so long ago that you no longer recall the basic human need to flee from violence and persecution when left with no other choice?" she asked, urging European leaders to "rise to the challenge" and help those in need.
 [AFP - ahram.org.eg]
13/5/16
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  •     Refugees in Greece: "We Did Not Expect to Live This Life in Europe"


Almost one month after the signing of the EU-Turkey deal, the situation across Greece remains chaotic and inhumane. In improvised camps and detention centers across the country, around 50,000 people are stranded in appalling conditions. In what is becoming unbearable heat, many are unable to access the asylum system and are rapidly losing hope that they will be able to join their relatives or find places to live in peace.
The 10,000 People Trapped at Idomeni Must Not Pay for Europe’s Poor Policy with Their Health

In Idomeni, Greece, following the closure of the Balkans route to Europe, thousands are stranded and vulnerable to violence at the hands of the border police or smugglers. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams have treated babies as young as six weeks old for exposure to tear gas and ten-year-old children for rubber bullet wounds. MSF teams also deal with the health consequences of long term settlement in a camp that does not provide adequate shelter, health services, or sanitation.

MSF is also collaborating with Greek authorities to conduct an immunization campaign to protect children in the camp from vaccine-preventable diseases.

"Some of these children were born on European soil, others have been displaced for months, some for years, and most of them have not received all of the routine childhood vaccination that they need," said Emmanuel Massart, MSF field coordinator in Idomeni. "Europe has decided to stop thousands of people from moving through Greece but did not properly plan to address their basic needs. This was a fully predictable crisis, caused by the deliberate neglect of European governments and institutions."
Helplessness and Frustration Add to the Tension in Athens

The situation is no better in Athens, where, in spite of the relief provided by volunteers and local charities, basic living conditions for refugees are not being met. Feelings of helplessness and frustration add to the tension between refugees who feel that their cases are categorized arbitrarily according to their nationalities. "Disputes between Syrians and Afghans break out every night," explains Mohammad, a Syrian refugee from Latakia who arrived at the port mid-March. "The decision to accept Syrians and Iraqis as refugees but not Afghans is not fair at all, because many Afghans’ suffering was even worse than the Syrians. That’s what make Afghans angry with the Syrians.".................http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/article/refugees-greece-we-did-not-expect-live-life-europe
13/5/16
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