Oxfam reaction to situation at the Greek border with Turkey

Published: 2nd March 2020

Reacting to the latest developments in Turkey and at the border with Greece, Oxfam’s Europe migration campaign manager Evelien van Roemburg said:

“Governments are using people fleeing violence and persecution as pawns in a political game to avoid taking responsibility. There is no justification for the decision by the EU and the Greek government to leave people stranded in a no-man’s land at their borders without access to food, shelter and medical care. Instead of supporting Greece’s efforts to keep people trapped at its external border, the EU should remember its humanitarian and legal obligations and make sure that these women, men and children can safely access protection.

“The announcement of the Greek government that it will not accept asylum requests for one month is gravely concerning. It is reminiscent of the disastrous lack of leadership in 2015/2016 when no government in Europe wanted to take responsibility for people in need, and the EU concluded its migration deal with Turkey which was fundamentally flawed.

“The EU-Turkey deal turned people in need of safety and dignity into political bargaining chips. Treating human lives as pawns in political negotiations is unacceptable, and puts fundamental human rights second to political gain, violating both international and EU law.

“Greece and its EU partners must cooperate to share responsibility for those arriving and support them to rebuild their lives. In particular, EU member states should urgently relocate children and other vulnerable people from Greece to safe places in Europe. Greece, with the help of the EU, must urgently improve the dire situation in refugee camps on the Aegean islands and transfer people to safe and dignified conditions on the mainland.

“It is critical that all states live up to both the letter and the spirit of the Refugee Convention, and remember that the EU cannot effectively fulfil its role as a leading humanitarian actor when it continues to prioritise policies of self-interest over the rights and dignity of human beings.”

Notes to editors

Contact information

Florian Oel | Brussels | florian.oel@oxfam.org | office +32 2 234 11 15 | mobile +32 473 56 22 60

For updates, please follow @Oxfam and @OxfamEU