Once again, we see that EU member states are willing to deter people from seeking safety at all cost rather than providing the most basic assistance to men, women and children in need and placing them in further danger. In recent days, this has culminated with the death of a child, teargassing people at land-borders and reports of coastguards violently interfering instead of helping boats in distress.
With 40,000 people trapped on the islands, the situation has reached breaking point for asylum seekers and local communities alike who have both been abandoned by European leaders for the sake of this the EU-Turkey deal. Consequently, increased tensions have led to riots, roadblocks and attacks on those trying to provide assistance. People in need are deprived of critical assistance as MSF teams and others have had to limit the volume of activity due to safety concerns. The Greek Government and the European Union must take immediate action to de-escalate the situation.
The emergency measures announced by the Greek government will have devastating consequences as they remove the right to claim protection and aim to push people back to Turkey. This will only lead to more chaos, deaths at sea, escalating violence and an even worse humanitarian disaster.
EU member States must address the real emergency: evacuate people from the islands to EU countries, deliver an asylum system that works, stop trapping people in horrid conditions.”
Stefano Argenziano, Operations Coordinator for Greece.