Fire in Moria – call for emergency evacuation and relocation

169 MEPs signed the call for immideate action on Moria. This is the letter:

To:
Vice-President Margaritis Schinas
Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson
Federal Minister for the Interior, Horst Seehofer

Brussels, 11 September 2020


Dear Vice-President Schinas,
Dear Commissioner Johansson,
Dear Minister Seehofer,

The fire in the EU’s biggest refugee camp Moria is a humanitarian disaster and a disaster for Europe as a whole. For far too long, Europe has ignored that the camp was heavily overcrowded and that people had to stay in Moria for years under slum-like circumstances. They had no access to proper sanitary facilities nor to appropriate accommodation. When Covid-19 broke out, not just the infected persons were put under quarantine, but the entire camp. More than 12.000 people were locked in a place where they had no possibility to protect themselves from the virus. The catastrophe was predictable. It is a shame for Europe that it was not prevented.

After Moria burnt down, more than 12.000 people are now stranded without even a tent or a roof over their heads. They urgently need our help. We, the undersigning MEPs urge you to provide immediate humanitarian and medical help, to evacuate the people as swiftly as possible and to provide a sustainable solution for the people of Moria by relocating them to other Member States.

We call on you to support Greece with corona tests of all asylum seekers and locals on the island and with medical personnel and equipment for people with severe disease progression.

Many of us, including the President of our House, have already at the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis called for an evacuation of the camp and the relocation of asylum seekers from Moria to avoid an outbreak. We acknowledge that it is a challenge to evacuate now more than 12.000 persons at once and encourage you to look into all possibilities. People who cannot be immediately transferred to the mainland could also preliminarily be accommodated in cruise ships, which due to Covid-19 are currently out of operation, before they are relocated. In any case, we call on you to support Greece in providing emergency accommodation for the people of Moria where they can protect themselves from the virus.

We further urge you to ensure the relocation of asylum seekers from Moria to other Member States. Taking care of the people of Moria is not just the responsibility of Greece. Moria is a European refugee camp, and Europe has to stand by its responsibility. Many municipalities and regions in Europe have long declared their willingness to receive asylum seekers from Greece.

Since Wednesday night, thousands of people went on the streets to show their solidarity with the people of Moria and to call for their swift relocation. We fully support their call. We call on you to uphold our common European values and to relocate the people of Moria to places where they can find safety and dignified living condition.

Reconstructing Moria is not a solution, nor is it as solution to create similar conditions in other camps. It will only lead to the same problems that have caused the catastrophe.

We call on you to ensure that the upcoming Pact on Migration and Asylum will be based on solidarity and the fair sharing of responsibilities among Member States. We must make sure that a humanitarian disaster like in Moria will never happen again.

We urge you to do everything possible to help the people of Moria and to show European solidarity!

Sincerely yours,

Erik MARQUARDT (Greens/EFA), initiator of the letter
Ska KELLER, Co-President of the Greens/EFA
Philippe LAMBERTS, Co-President of the Greens/EFA
Iratxe GARCÍA-PEREZ, President of the S&D group
AUBRY MANON, Co-President of GUE/NGL
Martin SCHIRDEWAN, Co-President of GUE/NGL
Juan Fernando LÓPEZ AGUILAR, Chair of the LIBE Committee
Maria ARENA, Chair of the DROI Committee
Younous OMARJEE (GUE/NGL)
Abir AL-SAHLANI (Renew)
Adriana MALDONADO LÓPEZ (S&D)
Agnes JONGERIUS (S&D)
Alexandra GEESE (Greens/EFA)
Alexis GEORGOULIS (GUE/NGL)
Alice KUHNKE (Greens/EFA)
Alviina ALAMETSÄ (Greens/EFA)
Andreas SCHIEDER (S&D)
Anna CAVAZZINI (Greens/EFA)
Anna DEPARNAY-GRUNENBERG (Greens/EFA)
Anne-Sophie PELLETIER (GUE)
Aurore LALUCQ (S&D)
Bas EICKHOUT (Greens/EFA)
Benoit BITEAU (Greens/EFA)
Bernard GUETTA (Renew)
Bernd LANGE (S&D)
Bettina VOLLATH (S&D)
Billy KELLEHER (Renew)
Brando BENIFEI (S&D)
Carlos ZORRINHO (S&D)
Caroline ROOSE (Greens/EFA)
Chris MACMANUS (GUE/NGL)
Ciaran CUFFE (Greens/EFA)
Clare DALY (GUE/NGL)
Claude GRUFFAT (Greens/EFA)
Claudia GAMON (Renew)
Cornelia ERNST (GUE/NGL)
Cristina MAESTRE MARTÍN DE ALMAGRO (S&D)
Damian BOESELAGER (Greens/EFA)
Damien CARÈME (Greens/EFA)
Daniel FREUND (Greens/EFA)
Danuta HUEBNER (EPP)
David CORMAND (Greens/EFA)
Deirdre CLUNE (EPP)
Delara BURKHARDT (S&D)
Diana RIBA I GINER (Greens/EFA)
Dietmar KÖSTER (S&D)
Dimitrios PAPADIMOULIS (GUE/NGL)
Domenec RUIZ DEVESA (S&D)
Eider GARDIAZÁBAL RUBIAL (S&D)
Elena KOUNTOURA (GUE/NGL)
Elena YONCHEVA (S&D)
Ernest URTASUN (Greens/EFA)
Evelyn REGNER (S&D)
Fabienne KELLER (Renew)
Francisco GUERREIRO (Greens/EFA)
Francois ALFONSI (Greens/EFA)
Gabriele BISCHOFF (S&D)
Grace O’SULLIVAN (Greens/EFA)
Gwendoline DELBOS-CORFIELD (Greens/EFA)
Hannah NEUMANN (Greens/EFA)
Hannes HEIDE (S&D)
Heidi HAUTALA (Greens/EFA)
Helmut GEUKING (ECR)
Helmut SCHOLZ (GUE/NGL)
Henrike HAHN (Greens/EFA)
Hildegard BENTELE (EPP)
Idoia VILLANUEVA (GUE/NGL)
Inmaculada RODRÍGUEZ-PIÑERO (S&D)
Irena JOVEVA (Renew)
Isabel CARVALHAIS (S&D)
Isabel CARVALHAIS (S&D)
Isabel GARCÍA MUÑOZ (S&D)
Isabel SANTOS (S&D)
Ismail ERTUG (S&D)
Jakop DALUNDE (Greens/EFA)
Jan-Christoph OETJEN (Renew)
Janina OCHOJSKA (EPP)
Jarosław DUDA (EPP)
Javier MORENO SÁNCHEZ (S&D)
Jerzy BUZEK (EPP)
João FERREIRA (GUE/NGL)
Jordi SOLÉ (Greens/EFA)
José GUSMÃO (GUE/NGL)
Jutta PAULUS (Greens/EFA)
Karen MELCHIOR (Renew)
Karima Delli (Greens/EFA)
Katarina BARLEY (S&D)
Kathleen VAN BREMPT (S&D)
Kati PIRI (S&D)
Katrin LANGENSIEPEN (Greens/EFA)
Kim VAN SPARRENTAK (Greens/EFA)
Klemen GROSELJ (Renew)
Konstantinos ARVANITIS (GUE/NGL)
Lara WOLTERS (S&D)
Laura FERRARA (NI)
Leila CHAIBI (GUE/NGL)
Lina GALVEZ MUÑOZ (S&D)
Lukasz KOHUT (S&D)
Magdalena ADAMOWICZ (EPP)
Malin BJÖRK (GUE/NGL)
Manu PINEDA (GUE/NGL)
Marc BOTENGA (GUE/NGL)
Marcos ROS SEMPERE (S&D)
Margarete AUKEN (Greens/EFA)
Margarida MARQUES (S&D)
Maria Eugenia RODRÍGUEZ PALOP (GUE/NGL)
Maria NOICHL (S&D)
Maria WALSH (EPP)
Maria-Manuel Leitão-Marques (S&D)
Marie TOUSSAINT (Greens/EFA)
Marisa MATIAS (GUE/NGL)
Markéta GREGOROVÁ (Greens/EFA)
Martin HÄUSLING (Greens/EFA)
Martin SONNEBORN (NI)
Massimiliano SMERIGLIO (S&D)
Michael BLOSS (Greens/EFA)
Michèle RIVASI (Greens/EFA)
Mick WALLACE (GUE/NGL)
Miguel URBÁN CRESPO (GUE/NGL)
Milan BRGLEZ (S&D)
Monica Silvana GONZALEZ (S&D)
Monika VANA (Greens/EFA)
Mounir SATOURI (Greens/EFA)
Nico SEMSROTT (Greens/EFA)
Nicolae STEFANUTA (Renew)
Niklas NIENAß (Greens/EFA)
Nikolaj VILLUMSEN (GUE/NGL)
Özlem DEMIREL (GUE/NGL)
Pär HOLMGREN (Greens/EFA)
Pascal ARIMONT (EPP)
Patricia GUEGUEN (Greens/EFA)
Patrick BREYER (Greens/EFA)
Paul TANG (S&D)
Pernando BARRENA (GUE/NGL)
Peter VAN DALEN (EPP)
Petra DE SUTTER (Greens/EFA)
Petros KOKKALIS (GUE/NGL)
Pierfrancesco MAJORINO (S&D)
Pierrette HERZBERGER-FOFANA (Greens/EFA)
Pina PICIERNO (S&D)
Raphaël GLUCKSMANN (S&D)
Rasmus ANDRESEN (Greens/EFA)
Reinhard BÜTIKOFER (Greens/EFA)
Robert BIEDROŃ (S&D)
Romeo FRANZ (Greens/EFA)
Rosa D’AMATO (NI)
Salima YENBOU (Greens/EFA)
Samira RAFAELA (Renew)
Sandra PEREIRA (GUE/NGL)
Sara CERDAS (S&D)
Sarah WIENER (Greens/EFA)
Saskia BRICMONT (Greens/EFA)
Sergey LAGODINSKY (Greens/EFA)
Silvia MODIG (GUE/NGL)
Sira REGO (GUE/NGL)
Sophie IN’T VELD (Renew)
Stelios KOULOGLOU (GUE/NGL)
Sven GIEGOLD (Greens/EFA)
Sylwia SPUREK (S&D)
Tanja FAJON (S&D)
Terry REINTKE (Greens/EFA)
Thomas WAITZ (Greens/EFA)
Tiemo WÖLKEN (S&D)
Tilly METZ (Greens/EFA)
Tineke STRIK (Greens/EFA)
Udo BULLMANN (S&D)
Vera TAX (S&D)
Ville NIINISTÖ (Greens/EFA)
Viola VON CRAMON-TAUBADEL (Greens/EFA)
Yannick JADOT (Greens/EFA)

Question: Situation on the border between Turkey and the EU

In order to be able to exercise my parliamentary control function as a Member of the European Parliament, I have the opportunity to put questions to the European Commission. The Commission must answer these questions.
On 04.03.2020 I asked the Commission the following questions:

Priority question for written answer P-001313/2020 to the Commission

Subject: Situation on the border between Turkey and the EU

Since Turkey's decision to open its borders on Friday 28., the situation on the border between Turkey and the EU has worsened. Officials have reported that a four-year-old Syrian boy died in the waters off Lesbos, and journalists report that a Syrian refugee was shot dead by border guards. In addition, the Greek government has announced a decision to increase deterrence at the border and block new asylum applications for a month. UNHCR estimates that around 1200 people arrived in the East Aegean Islands on 1. 2..

The suspension, albeit temporary, of the right to apply for asylum and any violation of the principle of non-refoulement are illegal under the Geneva Convention, the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Treaty on European Union.

1.    Was wird die Kommission tun, um zu gewährleisten, dass die EU und ihre Mitgliedstaaten dem internationalen Asylrecht und dem Asylrecht der EU Rechnung tragen?

2.    Wird sie sich mit der mutmaßlichen Anwendung von Gewalt an der Grenze zwischen der EU und Griechenland befassen, einschließlich des Einsatzes von Tränengas und der exzessiven Anwendung von physischer Gewalt durch Grenzschutzbeamte gegen Asylsuchende?

3.    Welche Maßnahmen wird die EU in Abstimmung mit internationalen Organisationen, einschließlich des UNHCR und der IOM, ergreifen, um den Druck auf die Mitgliedstaaten der ersten Einreise zu mindern?

P-001313/2020

Antwort von Kommissarin Ylva Johansson im Namen der Europäischen Kommission:

Nach Artikel 4 des Schengener Grenzkodexes[1] müssen die Mitgliedstaaten bei der Durchführung von Grenzkontrollen unter Einhaltung der einschlägigen Rechtsvorschriften der Union im Zusammenhang mit dem Zugang zu internationalem Schutz und des Grundsatzes der Nichtzurückweisung handeln.

Die Kommission nimmt alle Vorwürfe über den Einsatz von Gewalt an den EU-Außengrenzen ernst und geht davon aus, dass die griechischen Behörden in sämtlichen Fällen Ermittlungen einleiten. Obgleich die Mitgliedstaaten dafür zuständig sind, zu bestimmen, welche Maßnahmen zur Verhinderung unbefugter Grenzübertritte geeignet sind, muss die Anwendung von körperlicher Gewalt gerechtfertigt und verhältnismäßig sein. Die Kommission unterstützt die griechischen Behörden dabei, Spannungen zu deeskalieren sowie Ruhe und Ordnung an der Grenze wiederherzustellen.

Am 4. März 2020 hat die Kommission einen Aktionsplan für Sofortmaßnahmen zur Unterstützung Griechenlands[2] vorgelegt. Zu den jüngsten Erfolgen der Initiative zählen die koordinierte Umsiedlung von rund 1600 unbegleiteten Minderjährigen aus Griechenland in andere Mitgliedstaaten und die im Rahmen der Maßnahmen zur Eindämmung der Verbreitung des COVID-19-Virus erfolgte Verlegung von 1000 schutzbedürftigen Migranten von Hotspots in lokale Hotels. Darüber hinaus wird der neue Migrations- und Asylpakt Vorschläge für eine weitreichende Solidarität mit den Mitgliedstaaten der ersten Einreise beinhalten. Die Kommission arbeitet in dieser Hinsicht auch weiterhin eng mit internationalen Organisationen zusammen, insbesondere mit der Internationalen Organisation für Migration und dem Hohen Flüchtlingskommissar der Vereinten Nationen, die nach wie vor eine entscheidende Rolle bei der Umsetzung der EU-Hilfsmaßnahmen für Migranten und Flüchtlinge innehaben.


[1] Verordnung (EU) 2016/399 des Europäischen Parlaments und des Rates vom 9. März 2016 über einen Unionskodex für das Überschreiten der Grenzen durch Personen (Schengener Grenzkodex)

[2] https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/de/IP_20_384

We can't leave anyone behind!

We now need a substantial evacuation of the camps in the Greek islands so that the refugees can protect themselves from the corona virus.

When i arrived in lesbos at the end of february, i did not think that the situation could get much worse. i wanted to spend the week off from sitting here to see how the situation on moria has developed. a camp in europe, where the processing of an application can take over a year and children cannot attend school during that time. a camp where people have been sleeping on the damp ground or in summer tents for four winters.

That people in the EU have to live like this is a disgrace for all of us. the situation here is not so bad because the EU could not organise it better. it is so bad because it is politically desired. it is politically desired that conditions should be so bad because people want to deter. but the aim cannot be that conditions in the camps on the external borders should be worse than in a civil war, just so that no one would think of fleeing to Europe.  

Erdoğans Border opening and right-wing extremists on Lesbos

Unfortunately, I was wrong in assuming that things could hardly get any worse. After Erdoğan announced the opening of the border and suddenly there were a few thousand people on the external border, Greece reacted with violence and simply suspended the basic right to asylum. I have a commissioned a legal opinion which shows that the Greek government has acted unlawfully. The Greek coast guard started shooting towards rubber dinghies full of people instead of rescuing them. Boats were left in distress for hours instead of intervening immediately. A girl drowned trying to get to Lesbos although she could have been rescued.

Right-wing extremists from all over Europe mobilized the mob to Lesbos. on some days more Nazis than refugees arrived on Lesbos. right-wing gangs took over the streets and patrolled the city with iron chains. right-wing extremists could hunt down aid organizations, fugitives and journalists for days on end without the police intervening. one aid facility was even set on fire. the Greek constitutional state simply failed completely there.

The Corona virus is a danger to the people in the Greek camps

And then it got worse again. the corona virus is spreading very fast in europe. the virus does not differentiate by skin colour, religion or gender. while contact bans and curfews are imposed everywhere in europe, here 20,000 people live crammed together in a camp that was built for 3,000 people. for every 1,300 people there is a single tap and even that one is constantly breaking down. you can hardly wash your hands here, let alone practice social distancing. when the corona virus comes to moria, it will not be stopped so quickly.

The Member States have ways of preventing the Corona disaster in overcrowded refugee camps. It is in our interest, after all, not to allow places in Europe where the virus can spread unhindered. The camps must be evacuated quickly, not in spite of, but because of Corona.

#Leavenoonebehind

People must now be given quarantine facilities in places where they are protected from the virus. The Commission must coordinate the process, but Member States must lead the way and support Greece in its fight against the spread of the corona virus. This also requires financial aid, but above all the political will to solve problems instead of always telling us what we cannot do. The Greek mainland needs support in this, as do the people on the Greek islands. For far too long we have let these citizens down.

In order to create more attention for the topic, I have created the campaign "Leave no one behind" It is an initiative which is about citizens from all over Europe standing together in the Corona crisis and standing up for those who need our solidarity. This includes the refugees at our external borders, the homeless, the old and sick. If we do not act now, we will be complicit in the catastrophe which threatens these people.

My current assessment of the situation in Greece

Instead of talking about racist marauding gangs at the external borders, the Greek coast guard refuses to rescue people, attacks rubber dinghies and puts people's lives in danger. Anyone who shares the military rhetoric of "European shield" or an "attack on the EU" or supports the Greek demand for "maximum deterrence" agrees with the right-wing mob and racist violence. Because anyone who says: "We are under attack, violence at the borders is necessary" also says: "Strike, it's only self-defence". The European Commission, the German government and 26 other EU states capitulate to an autocrat with border guard perseverance slogans.

The inhumane policy of the last few days is a gift for Erdoğan. The last few days have shown that only a few thousand fugitives have to stand at the external borders and already fundamental rights and basic human rights are being abrogated. Greece denies people the right to apply for asylum and so far Ursula von der Leyen and most European governments seem to simply tolerate this.

The responsible politicians are overwhelmed by the situation and seriously expect Turkey to take in another million people from Idlib, while at the EU's external border children are being shot at with tear gas so that nobody can claim their right to asylum in the European Union.

There is an alternative to the current chaos and the breach of our European values. We must immediately organise humanitarian aid at the external borders. We must set contingents, evacuate people from the Greek islands in an orderly fashion and then check in various states who is in need of protection and who is not. Only through humanity and order can we find an answer worthy of Europe.

To respond to those seeking protection with violence and military rhetoric is absolutely unworthy of Europe.

For questions and further information please contact our press officer Krsto Lazarević at your disposal.

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