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Moria, Lesbos: chronicle of a disaster foretold

“The fires that have now burnt out the Moria camp for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in Lesbos is a chronicle of a disaster foretold,” said Pierre-Alain Fridez (Switzerland, SOC), Chairperson of the PACE Migration Committee. “We know what happens when thousands of persons are confined in cramped accommodation with ever-diminishing prospects; we know what will happen if we, as European countries, do not show solidarity with one another; we know the dangers of a backlash by local populations; and we do not need to guess what will happen in a pandemic of the nature of COVID-19 when the virus starts to circulate.”

“The first step after the fires is to deal with the humanitarian needs of those who were living in the camps. Now more than ever, the issue of resettlement must be on the agenda - and not just for unaccompanied minors and other vulnerable persons. All member States need to use this tragic fire as a wake-up call. Within the Parliamentary Assembly we will exhort parliamentarians across Europe to push their governments to take action, we will prioritise our work on a report on ‘Voluntary relocation for migrants in need of humanitarian protection’, and furthermore, together with the UK Parliament, we will be holding a conference/webinar for parliamentarians on the humanitarian relocation of refugee children.”

“Out of the ashes of Moria, the European Union has a chance to bring together a coherent migration policy in the form of the EU Pact on Migration and Asylum to be presented in September. But it cannot be left to the EU alone. Members of the 47 states of the Council of Europe must work much closer together to tackle migration and asylum challenges, made all the more difficult in times of COVID-19. This has been outlined clearly in a report on ‘Humanitarian consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic for migrants and refugees’ adopted by our committee on Monday this week.”

“Next week in the Standing Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly, which brings together parliamentarians from 47 European countries, we will certainly discuss how to ensure greater solidarity on the migration and asylum front with Mr Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece, who is also the current Chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.”