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Commission must urgently evacuate people on external borders from COVID-19

With Europe struggling to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, over 100 MEPs have also expressed deep concerns for the plight of the thousands of people stranded and stuck at the EU’s external borders in Greece, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Serbia.

A letter, drafted by three MEPs from the Parliament’s Civil Liberties committee including GUE/NGL’s Cornelia Ernst (DIE LINKE, Germany), has been signed by 122 MEPs and has been sent to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. It urges her not to abandon the many vulnerable people living in camps on the Greek islands and in Bihać, where living conditions have been described by the likes of UNHCR and other organisations as ‘inhumane’.

In particular, MEPs are demanding true solidarity from the EU and that the bloc and its member states have a duty to ensure the safety of asylum seekers and the local communities in the area.

The letter, co-authored with Birgit Sippel (S&D group) and Tineke Strik (Greens/EFA), says the Commission must lead the way in upholding the values and legal duties of the EU to those who are most vulnerable, and recognise their right to asylum.

As of today, three people have been tested positive for coronavirus on the island of Lesvos where Moria camp is located. Even without the threat of a pandemic, the fundamental rights of the people on the external borders had been repeatedly breached by the right-wing Greek and Croatian governments, for example. The latest developments from the region include possible violations of these fundamental rights by FRONTEX, the EU’s very own border agency.

But time is really of essence, and there is an urgent, urgent need to decongest and evacuate these camps before COVID-19 takes hold. If it is too late, it is feared that member states will ignore the plight, leading to an even greater human tragedy.

 

Photo courtesy of Lone Israelsen on Flickr

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