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Petra de Sutter on International Migration Day: “a crying shame for Europe”

“This year, International Migration Day (18th of December) is probably the most inglorious day for Europe. The overcrowded hotspot facilities on the Greek islands are a crying shame. Moria, the refugee camp on Lesbos, is not only a prison anymore. It has become a war zone where basic assistance and needs are not fulfilled. There is no security, no hygiene and no medical and psychosocial help. It is the worse reception condition for any person who escaped war”, today said Petra De Sutter (Belgium, SOC), PACE General Rapporteur on conditions of reception of refugees and migrants.

She urged the Greek authorities and the international community to find quick solutions. "The reception conditions on the Greek islands are not human. We should treat the symptoms of this crisis rapidly before January to avoid more deaths, and at the same time we should tackle the root causes. Every asylum seeker coming from Turkey, who is obliged to go through the hotspots on the Greek islands since the EU-Turkey-deal should be heard, transferred to the mainland (after the claim was validated) and relocated in other European country according to the European solidarity relocation mechanism. That is the only way to ensure the human dignity of these persons searching for protection," she said.

According to Ms De Sutter, the current policy of the Greek government on the islands “is not progressing at all compared to the advancements made on the Greek mainland, in particular since the Ad hoc Committee of the Assembly’s Bureau visited the country in May 2016. The Greek immigration minister Ioannis Mouzalas is trying to make last minute arrangements by renting hotels on Lesbos and sending ships from the mainland to the islands for the reception of 3,000 refugees, because five refugees died in Moria last January. Efforts to guarantee human conditions in the camps should be intensified by alleviating pressure on the islands and transferring more people to the Greek mainland. Legal protection of the most vulnerable must be a priority now".

The Greek authorities “are not alone”, the General rapporteur added. The support of other EU-countries in this matter “is very important, because the migratory flows will not stop. Instead of ignoring the fact the conditions are deteriorating every day, the European Union should stand strong. Every EU-country should take its responsibility, including the Visegrád Four, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, to guarantee human rights. It is an illusion to say the EU-Turkey-deal was a success, by supposing it led to a reduction of refugees. In reality the refugees are still arriving, but Europe is ignoring them because they are hidden and stuck on the Greek islands," Ms de Sutter concluded.