EU leaders' blind commitment to the EU-Turkey deal puts lives at risk

Published: 15th December 2016

European Union leaders meeting today in Brussels are expected to call for the implementation of all details of the EU-Turkey deal.

Oxfam’s EU migration policy advisor, Raphael Shilhav, said:

“EU leaders are sticking to the EU-Turkey deal, no matter what this means for the people in need. Migrants, including refugees, are stuck in dangerous and degrading conditions on Greek islands, because EU governments see this as the only chance to send them directly back to Turkey. People have been trapped for months in limbo in camps that are ill equipped for long-term stays, especially in winter. Many are living in freezing cold tents and even on beaches, where they struggle to stay dry, as temperatures drop and storms grow more ferocious.

“EU governments are blatantly ignoring the appalling situation of the people trapped on Greek islands. We call on EU leaders to take concrete steps to improve the situation of migrants, including refugees, in Greece. They must make a U-turn in their response to migration, which so far is not solving problems, but just creating new ones.”

Notes to editors

  • Oxfam’s EU migration policy advisor Raphael Shilhav is available for interviews and background briefings.
  • Yesterday, more than 30 humanitarian agencies and human rights organisations warned in a joint statement that thousands of people on Greek islands are at risk this winter as the EU-Turkey deal keeps them stuck in dangerous and degrading conditions.
  • EU governments adhere to Turkey’s interpretation of the EU-Turkey statement signed in March, by which Turkey will not receive people from the Greek mainland. Despite overcrowding and rapidly deteriorating conditions, the European Commission has therefore recommended to EU governments to increase the capacity for reception on the islands rather than on the mainland.
  • Ahead of the October EU summit, Oxfam has published the media briefing paperCausing suffering and problems - Europe’s approach to migration”.

Contact information

Florian Oel | Brussels | | office +32 2 234 11 15 | mobile +32 473 56 22 60

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