Where is humanity ?

Since Turkey decided at the end of February to open its borders so that an estimated one million people fleeing bombs in northwest Syria can reach Europe, the continental management have shown its worst face. Both the Turkish authorities, using those who are suffering to put pressure on the European Union, and the Greek ones, illegally nullifying the right of asylum, and also the EU, which is allowing the violation of international treaties that it should be guaranteeing.

  • Doctors of the World denounces the weaponization and victimization of refugees trying to reach Greece and the overcrowding situation of reception centres on the islands
  • The organization, also alarmed by the harassment of humanitarian organizations
  • In Turkish towns where people are on the move, water, food or health care cannot be reached. Children are in extreme vulnerability.

 

The Greek government's decision to suspend the right to asylum is inhumane and illegal, endangers human lives, and will expose the country to international sanctions. The recently adopted Act of Legislative Resolution allows the deportation of asylum seekers without registration, either to their country of origin or to the country of entry into European territory, which contravenes the fundamental right to asylum enshrined in the Geneva Convention. "This legislation must be withdrawn immediately. We must stop sending people back to places where their lives are in danger," says Eugenia Thanou, général director of Médecins du Monde Greece.

 

The result is that people trapped at Europe's borders have been attacked and unjustly treated. Even if they wanted to enter Greece legally, no one offers them that real possibility. Many come from the northern part of Syria that has been hardest hit by the upsurge in war, but migrants from other countries - such as Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan or Iran - are also arriving on the Mediterranean coast. For them, Turkey is extremely unsafe. Even if they have some income, the requirement to report their location every 15 days, something that can only be done in certain points often far from their homes, makes their survival unviable.

 

"Treating people fleeing from war in this way is not in keeping with human beings. It is not just boats that are going down, it is the very concept of humanity," says Thanou.

In Greece, the extremist behaviour observed by civilians, the army and the police against refugees and humanitarian organisations is very alarming. "Feeding suspicion and spreading hatred against solidarity initiatives is irresponsible and dangerous," said the spokesperson for Doctors of the World. Doctors of the World believes that the climate of panic that has been created does not correspond to reality and seriously affects not only those who suffer harassment and persecution, but also society as a whole.

 

The rhetoric of the "shield" maintained by the European Commission does not help in this scenario. It would be more useful to set up urgent, fair and rational mechanisms for the resettlement in other EU countries of asylum-seekers who are in Greece.

 

In the meantime, it is urgent to address the humanitarian needs of both those who are arriving off the coast of Greece and those who remain in the overcrowded centres on the islands. Decongesting these facilities by relocating asylum seekers to other European countries must be a priority, especially in the case of minors. The situation is no better in areas of Turkey near the Greek border, such as Edirne, where displaced persons are sleeping rough, without any protection. In informal and precarious settlements there is no health care at all, which is urgently needed. There is also no access to safe drinking water with food. The situation here is one of extreme need, especially for children.

 

Médecins du Monde, whose Greek delegation signed a letter past Thursday, together with 30 other organisations, addressed to the Greek and European authorities, raising these and other concerns, is maintaining active teams in all the countries involved in this reception crisis, from Syria to Greece.

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