Whilst supporting emergency aid measures, the MEPs criticised the policies that have led to refugees facing freezing weather conditions in Greece and the Western Balkans during the debate in the European Parliament last night.
Italian MEP, Barbara Spinelli, remarked: “I wonder how many asylum seekers have to freeze to death, in this shameful winter?”
“I ask the Commission to listen to the recommendations of Amnesty International and of the Refugee Community Leaders in Moria. I ask that the refugees on the Greek islands be brought to locations on the mainland.
“In addition, the refugees currently located in the rest of Europe must not be sent back to Greece or Italy in the name of the Dublin system.
“Let it be clear: this is not a refugee crisis – it is the failure of our policies on asylum, relocation, family reunification for refugees and respect for the right to life.”
Swedish MEP, Malin Björk, explained: “The situation this winter is inhumane. People are freezing to death. They are freezing in camps in 2017 not because they have to, but because we created this situation through inhumane and incorrect political decisions.”
“What kind of Europe is this? There's a black hole of indifference in Europe. We have closed our borders, tens of thousands of refugees are stranded in Greece and the Western Balkans.
“When member states have to send people to patrol the borders then they participate in the scheme, but when we are trying to take actual measures to support the refugees, then no-one does anything. This has to change.
“What we have just heard [from the European Commission] is not sufficient. We are now facing a catastrophe. So I ask the Commission to ask the member states. We cannot just hide behind those who don't wish to do anything. We have to find those who are willing to participate and have them participate.
“We want to have emergency relocation and we want to close the camps on those islands.”
Greek MEP, Kostas Chrysogonos, added: “At a time when migrants and refugees are facing extreme weather phenomena it is a good opportunity to show more solidarity. The unprecedented weather conditions in regions such as the Greek islands recently tested the strength of the government mechanism as well as the refugees themselves.”
“The European Union must confirm its support, aiming to take better care of refugees and migrants.
“The data shows that the majority of these people are supported materially and with the addition of personnel. However, as the weather conditions have put considerable strain on the mechanism of the Greek government, we must decide as quickly as possible on the provision of additional aid to the places that were struck by bad weather as we do in all cases of physical catastrophe.”
GUE/NGL MEPs have also sent a joint letter to Commissioners Juncker and Avramopoulos proposing specific actions to address the current situation.
GUE/NGL Press Contact:
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