16.06.2015

The situa­ti­on in Greece is esca­la­ting. The European Uni­on idly stands by while a huma­ni­ta­ri­an cri­sis is about to turn into a huma­ni­ta­ri­an cata­stro­phe. The situa­ti­on on the Aege­an islands is out of con­trol. But ins­tead of taking respon­si­bi­li­ty and respon­ding to the cri­sis with all avail­ab­le means, European Minis­ters of Inte­rior bicker about insuf­fi­ci­ent quo­tas at today’s mee­ting in Luxem­bourg.

102.000 per­sons have crossed the Medi­ter­ra­ne­an in the first five mon­ths of 2015 alrea­dy, with the majo­ri­ty of boat peop­le arri­ving in Greece and Ita­ly (48.000 and 52.000 respec­tively). The Aege­an rou­te has beco­me the main escape to Euro­pe.  On the island of Les­bos for examp­le, the num­ber of arri­vals has risen from 737 in Janu­a­ry to 7200 in May. In total more than 20.000 per­sons have arri­ved in Les­bos alo­ne this year.

The pro­tec­tion see­kers arri­ving on the Aege­an islands lack even the most basic sup­plies. Thousands of refu­gees – amongst them child­ren – camp in the open wit­hout sani­ta­ry faci­li­ties or medi­cal care. Local com­mu­nities and civil socie­ty try to help but are left to fend on their own.

Also on the main­land the situa­ti­on is cata­stro­phic. Last wee­kend 2000 Syri­an refu­gees from Les­bos arri­ved in the har­bor of Piraeus. In Athens they face desti­tu­ti­on again. The­re is no recep­ti­on and pro­tec­tion sys­tem. The orde­al of the pro­tec­tion see­kers the­re­fo­re con­ti­nues.

Wit­hout quick and sub­stan­ti­al huma­ni­ta­ri­an aid and the ope­ning of legal tra­vel rou­tes for the stran­ded refu­gees, cri­sis stri­cken Greece will be fur­ther desta­bi­li­zed and the lives of pro­tec­tion see­kers will be at risk.

The European Mem­ber Sta­tes howe­ver deny refu­gees any legal ways to tra­vel and to reu­ni­te with their fami­lies and com­mu­nities. The Lit­hua­ni­an Coun­cil Pre­si­den­cy alrea­dy decla­red that the­re will be no decisi­on on emer­gen­cy relo­ca­ti­on and soli­da­ri­ty regu­la­ti­ons at the mee­ting in Luxem­bourg today.

The EU Com­mis­si­on sug­gested relo­ca­ting 40.000 Eri­tre­an and Syri­an pro­tec­tion see­kers from Ita­ly and Greece to other EU Mem­ber Sta­tes wit­hin the next two years. PRO ASYL rejec­ts the forced dis­tri­bu­ti­on of refu­gees. Also the tar­ge­ted num­ber of 40.000 per­sons (16.000 from Greece and 24.000 from Ita­ly) does not do jus­ti­ce to the situa­ti­on in the two Bor­der Sta­tes.

Ins­tead of quar­rel­ling over quo­tas, decisi­ve and coor­di­na­ted cri­sis inter­ven­ti­ons in Greece and Ita­ly are urgent­ly nee­ded now. All avail­ab­le cri­sis funds, emer­gen­cy respon­se and civil pro­tec­tion mecha­nisms (accom­mo­da­ti­on, sani­ta­ry faci­li­ties, medi­cal staff and pro­vi­si­ons, trans­por­ta­ti­on means such as bus­ses and fer­ries) need to activa­ted swift­ly now to coun­ter the huma­ni­ta­ri­an cri­sis in Greece. In addi­ti­on to EU fun­ded emer­gen­cy reli­ef in Greece, coun­tries in the cen­ter and the north of the EU must quick­ly per­mit for legal tra­vel­ling of pro­tec­tion see­kers from Greece.

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