Several Humanitarian Agencies Pull Out of Greece ‘Hotspots’
Following the E.U.-Turkey deal that will involve mass expulsions of refugees and asylum seekers from Greece to Turkey, Doctors With Borders (MSF), the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), the International Rescue Committee and Save the Children have joined the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in boycotting the process and withdrawing their activities at the Greek reception centers called “hotspots.” The Greek police began detaining new arrivals as part of the deal, which the agencies called a gross violation of international conventions in place to protect asylum seekers.
“We took the extremely difficult decision to end our activities in Moria because continuing to work inside would make us complicit in a system we consider to be both unfair and inhumane,” said Marie Elisabeth Ingres, MSF head of mission in Greece, in a statement released in Athens.
MSF was helping with transporting refugees to the center, with water and sanitation activities and also setting up medical clinics at the hotspot over the past months.
“The suspension of work by NGOs is taking a further toll on the health of refugees,” according to local media reports.
U.N.’s Ban Ki-moon Visits Beirut to Discuss Refugees
With United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon arriving in Beirut for a three-day official visit, “the refugee crisis will be the focus of Ban’s talks in Beirut, in addition to his continuous calls on Lebanese rivals to elect a new head of state,” said the Daily Star in Lebanon.
The U.N. launched a 2016 Lebanon Crisis Response Plan in December 2015 with the aim of reaching close to 2 million “people of concern” with protection, direct assistance, economic recovery and community services.
With over 1 million registered Syrian refugees inside the country and dwindling aid in recent years, the leader is expected to galvanize support for more assistance at the March 30 high-level conference in Geneva that will be led by UNHCR.
“Put simply, we need more countries to share the load by taking a greater share of refugees from what has become the biggest displacement crisis of a generation,” said United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, in relation to the March 30 conference.
The conference will seek additional resettlement places for Syrian refugees and development and emergency aid for those who are currently in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan that host a vast majority of the Syrian refugee population.
Poland Refuses to Take in Refugees Following Brussels Attacks
The anti-migrant ruling party in Poland, Law and Justice, has withdrawn its offer to resettle its promised share of 7,000 Syrian refugees following the Brussels Airport terror attacks that killed dozens of people on Tuesday, according to several media reports.
Implying the mass influxes of asylum seekers pose potential threats to citizens, the government spokesperson said, “for us the most important thing is the safety of Poles.”
The government that came into power last year made similar statements in the wake of the November 2015 Paris attacks that involved coordinated suicide bombings in several locations of the city, and for which ISIS claimed responsibility.
- The Guardian: We Welcomed Refugees in 1945. We Can’t Abandon Them Today
- The Washington Post: The Brussels Attacks Are Exposing Europe’s Identity Crisis. Here’s How
- IRIN: How 150,000 People Were Saved in the Mediterranean
- Euronews: Solidarity for Belgium from Migrants at the Idomeni Camp in Greece
- The Guardian: Marooned in Idomeni: Despair as Refugees Find Their Way Blocked
Top image: A migrant boy walks through a puddle in a makeshift refugee camp at the northern Greek border point of Idomeni, Greece, Thursday, March 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)