Humanitarian crisis in Greece: Germany & Europe must offer refugees protection

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A humanitarian disaster is unfolding on the Turkish-Greek border: after the Turkish president Erdoğan opened the border with Greece, thousands of refugees have set out to apply for asylum in the EU. In Greece, the police use violence to prevent people from entering the country. 

the greek government declares deterrence in defence of the eu's external border. at the same time, greece has announced that it will suspend the right of asylum. for months, more than 40,000 people have been waiting in completely overcrowded camps on the greek islands. this situation on the islands is no longer tenable. journalists and aid organisations are being threatened by right-wing groups and the authorities are not protecting them. only a quick response from eu states can prevent further escalation. the federal government must also act quickly. 

What should have happened a long time ago is now all the more necessary: the European Union has a duty to support Greece in dealing with the situation by all means possible. Humanity and order must now be the guiding principles of the EU. This is a European emergency, not a Greek one. If we leave Greece alone now, we will contribute to further suffering, insecurity and instability. 

We therefore call for four immediate measures:

  1. The Federal Government should take in a quota of refugees from Greece and the Aegean islands. If Germany leads the way in Europe, other EU countries will follow more easily, and the goal must continue to be a fair and rapid redistribution of refugees within the EU. 
  2. The Federal Office for Refugees (BAMF) and the Federal Government may no longer block the family reunification of persons seeking protection in Greece with their relatives in Germany. Many refugees in Greece - including many unaccompanied children - have a legal claim to family reunification under the Dublin Regulation. The Federal Republic of Germany is responsible for their asylum procedure and they have to be transferred to their relatives in Germany. 
  3. The right to asylum is a human right: people seeking protection within the EU cannot be deported without an individual examination of their asylum application. The German government and the other EU countries must support Greece in such a way that refugees are registered at the EU's external border and then given access to a fair asylum procedure. Only fair asylum procedures can determine who is in need of protection and who is not. 
  4. Police violence against refugees must stop. tear gas and water cannons only aggravate hardship and do not solve anything. this is not how europe should deal with people seeking protection. journalists, lawyers and NGOs must be protected and must be able to do their important work unhindered. the federal government must work together with the eu to ensure that fundamental rights are respected at all levels. local authorities must enforce law and order instead of tolerating the violent mobs on the greek islands. 

The Turkish President Erdoğan is using the suffering of refugees to exert pressure on the EU. A common European response to this is needed. It is important that we provide humanitarian aid and defend the rule of law in Europe. To this end, let us address this urgent petition with as many signatures as possible to the Federal Government and the European Council: Germany must offer refugees protection!

With European greetings

Erik Marquardt MEP , Sven Giegold MEP, Clara Anne Bünger and Ansgar Gilster

Click here for the Petition