As humanitarian crisis develops, we must take a whole new approach to refugee policy
In the lead-up to the European Union summit with Turkey on March 7, GUE/NGL MEPs met today to discuss the urgent situation of refugees amidst border closures, police violence and the growing possibility of a humanitarian crisis in Greece.
As warned by the UNHCR in a statement yesterday, Europe is on the verge of a humanitarian crisis as borders closures in EU member states and the FYROM have led to a rapidly growing number of refugees in Greece, and police violence has occurred in border camps in Calais and Idomeni.
Following the meeting of GUE/NGL MEPs today, President Gabi Zimmer, criticised the unilateral border closures of some member states and urged the EU to act immediately to prevent the upcoming humanitarian crisis in Greece.
Zimmer explained: "It is both necessary and a humanitarian obligation that immediate action is taken to support refugees in Greece. We are seeing a humanitarian crisis developing on European soil and we cannot turn a blind eye to it; it concerns all of us. The EU must provide extra financial and material support to Greece to meet the urgent needs of the thousands of people who are stranded there. We cannot allow conditions to deteriorate."
"We need safe and legal pathways for refugees and migrants into the European Union. Ethnic profiling and the closure of borders must end immediately. We do not have the right to stop people fleeing war zones and extreme poverty. We must assume our international human rights obligations and find a European solution based on solidarity and shared responsibility."
During the meeting, GUE/NGL MEPs expressed disgust over the latest news images showing police firing tear gas at refugees in Calais and at the FYROM border.
They called for an end to border closures, recalling that both the cap set by Austria and the filtering by nationality conducted at the FYROM border do not comply with European and international law.
Many MEPs also pointed out that humanitarian aid for Greece is urgently needed, but this should not be seen as a solution.
They agreed that a different approach must be taken on refugees, immediately. A new approach should be based on human rights, solidarity and a peaceful resolution of the Syrian conflict. It should also put an end to increased border surveillance and European military interventions - including NATO - that have led to further destabilisation of the Middle East.
All MEPs insisted on the need for urgent action to establish safe and legal pathways into Europe for all people in need of international protection as well as migrants from third countries, recognising that this is the only solution to put an end to people smuggling and deaths in the Mediterranean.
MEPs also noted that many ordinary Greek citizens and volunteers across Europe have been showing us the way by welcoming refugees; now the time has come for European leaders to do the same.
NOTE TO EDITORS:
GUE/NGL has published the following Guidelines for an alternative policy on migration based on human rights and solidarity
GUE/NGL Press Contact:
Nikki Sullings +32 22 83 27 60 / +32 483 03 55 75
Gay Kavanagh +32 473 84 23 20