MSF re­jects EU funds over ‘shame­ful’ mi­grant pol­icy

Pakistan Observer - - INTERNATIONAL -

BRUS­SELS—Med­i­cal aid group Doc­tors With­out Bor­ders on Fri­day said it would no longer take funds from the EU in protest at its “shame­ful” poli­cies on the mi­gra­tion cri­sis, in­clud­ing a deal with Turkey.

The char­ity, widely known by its French acro­nym MSF (Medecins Sans Fron­tieres), re­ceived 56 mil­lion eu­ros ($63 mil­lion) from Euro­pean Union in­sti­tu­tions and the 28 mem­ber states last year.

“MSF an­nounces to­day that we will no longer take funds from the EU and its mem­ber states in protest at their shame­ful de­ter­rence poli­cies and their in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion of ef­forts to push peo­ple and their suf­fer­ing back from Euro­pean shores,” the group said in a state­ment.

The No­bel Peace Prize-win­ning MSF sin­gled out the EU’s deal with Turkey in March to stem the big­gest flow of mi­grants into the con­ti­nent since World War II, many of them from war-torn Syria.

“This is re­ally about Europe’s refugee shame,” Jerome Ober­reit, in­ter­na­tional sec­re­tary gen­eral of MSF, told a press con­fer­ence in Brus­sels.

He ac­cused mem­ber states of a “shame­ful Euro­pean re­sponse fo­cused on de­ter­rence rather than pro­vid­ing peo­ple with the as­sis­tance and pro­tec­tion they need.”

“The EU-Turkey deal goes one step fur­ther and has placed the very con­cept of ‘refugee’ and the pro­tec­tion it of­fers in dan­ger,” Ober­reit added.

MSF has been heav­ily in­volved in car­ing for mi­grants in lo­ca­tions in­clud­ing the Greek is­land of Les­bos and the French port of Calais, as well as op­er­at­ing a boat called the Ar­gos which saves lives in the Mediter­ranean.

Un­der the Turkey deal, Ankara agreed to take back all mi­grants and refugees land­ing in the Greek is­lands who did not ap­ply for asy­lum, and to crack down on peo­ple smug­gling across the Aegean Sea.

In ex­change, the EU said it would re­set­tle one Syr­ian refugee from camps in Turkey for ev­ery Syr­ian that Ankara takes back from Greece.

Turkey was mean­while of­fered visafree ac­cess, in­creased aid and speeded up EU ac­ces­sion talks if it met cer­tain con­di­tions, one of which was chang­ing its anti-ter­ror laws.

MSF said 8,000 peo­ple in­clud­ing hun­dreds of un­ac­com­pa­nied mi­nors had been left stranded in the Greek is­lands by the deal.

The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, the ex­ec­u­tive arm of the 28-na­tion EU, said it “takes note” of the MSF de­ci­sion, stress­ing that it af­fected only just over one per­cent of the Com­mis­sion’s 1.5 bil­lion euro an­nual aid bud­get.

Com­mis­sion spokesman Mar­gari­tis Schi­nas re­jected crit­i­cism of the Turkey deal, say­ing: “The Com­mis­sion prefers the in­ter­pre­ta­tion of our 28 mem­ber states, of the Coun­cil of Europe and the United Na­tions, which are closer to our anal­y­sis of the deal rather than the one that the MSF did to­day.” Rights group Amnesty In­ter­na­tional hailed MSF’s “coura­geous and prin­ci­pled stand”.

MSF’s Ober­reit also crit­i­cised a pro­posal last week to make sim­i­lar deals with African, Mid­dle East­ern and South Asian coun­tries.

He pointed out that po­ten­tial part­ners in­cluded So­ma­lia, Eritrea, Su­dan and Afghanistan, “four of the top 10 refugee-gen­er­at­ing coun­tries.”—AFP

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