Europe
Moria's immigrant camp: the shame of Europe
Located on the island of Lesbos, the immigrant containment camp is a humanitarian disaster.

"It is a sickening place". These are the words of Mario Lopez, a health worker with Doctors Without Borders (MSF), who defines the Moria refugee camp in Lesbos. A place considered by this NGO "the shame of Europe". The fires of September once again called into question the humanitarian role of the EU and shortly afterwards, in the long-awaited speech of the Union by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, a not very convincing European Pact for Migration was announced.

This pact emphasizes the "equitable distribution of responsibility and solidarity among Member States, which will have the obligation to be responsible for and supportive of each other". The interpretation made by DWB is that the three months proposed for the evaluation of asylum requests "do not guarantee human protection".

According to UNHCR, the Center for Identification and Registration of Moria, as the European bureaucracy calls the camp, has been devastated by the various fires: "12,000 asylum seekers are in a critical situation and, once again, have lost their shelters and belongings". This was a facility, supposedly, with a capacity for 3,000 people, where 4,000 children also lived, of whom 407 were unaccompanied.

UNHCR warned that 12,000 refugees from Moria are in a critical situation, after the fires that devastated the camp. The facility was theoretically planned to receive 3,000 people. Today more than 4,000 children live there, of whom 407 are unaccompanied.

At the moment, France and Germany have committed to receiving 400 children, with the promise of sheltering 1,500 more in Germany. These numbers are still insufficient.

The Commission proposes to implement an integrated border procedure that includes pre-entry screening to identify all persons crossing the EU's external borders without permission, or who have disembarked after a search and rescue operation.

The EU executive would also conduct health and security checks, take fingerprints and create a registry on the European database. Following this selection, rapid asylum or return decisions would be made, while improving existing procedures, the European Commission explained.

Migrants wearing masks are waiting to be sent to Greece outside the Kara Tepe temporary camp on the island of Lesbos.

Raquel González, an official of Doctors Without Borders in Madrid, recalled a few words, which she said were "contradictory to Von der Leyen": "Every human being has a solemn dignity" that cannot be taken away from him. According to Gonzalez, the three-month period and the voluntary nature of the distribution create a "solidarity à la carte".

In this line is the position of the members of LIBE from the European Parliament, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, where some MEPs demand that relocation of refugees should be mandatory.

Moria is in a state of limbo and there are people who have been waiting more than a year to be resettled. Eighty percent of the diseases we detected correspond to psychological conditions due to the lack of hygiene, education or a home. This is happening here, in Europe, unbelievable.

To this, we should add that LIBE members suspect that the return can be bought without obstacles, because, if there is the option to pay for the repatriations, "what would happen if the majority of States choose that position".

The EU executive is drawing on the horizon an intensified control at borders, where the identification of migrants is made prior to entry into European territory.

Raquel González underlines the fact that the document presented by Von der Leyen "does not speak of operations at sea, nor of the criminalization of NGOs," but it does speak of a Europe of security and borders, "instead of legal channels adjusted to international humanitarian law.

Protest against the Moria camp in front of the European Parliament.

As far as the different situations of the Member States and the fluctuations in migratory pressures are concerned, the Commission proposes a system of flexible contributions from the Member States. These can vary from relocating asylum seekers to taking responsibility for returning persons without a right to stay. Among other objectives, it seeks to prevent the trafficking of migrants and to put an end to illegal ways of arriving on European territory.

Raquel González recalls that, in 2015, more than 1 million people migrated to Europe by sea illegally. Crisis in which Greece was overwhelmed by the Dublin Pact which states that the receiving country processes asylum requests in primis. To avoid this, the EU "illegally" agreed to an agreement in exchange for money, by which Turkey would act as a barrier to this transit, "a country that continues to be criticized by Europeans themselves for the lack of civil liberties and respect for human rights".

"This cannot happen again, Moria is in a state of limbo and there are people who have been waiting more than a year for their destination". Mario Lopez, DWB doctor, explains that 80% of the ailments he observes every day are due to psychological conditions due to lack of hygiene, education or home. "This is happening here in Europe, unbelievable".

Doctors Without Borders appeals to the European conscience and states that "there are no avalanches of migrants". In 2016 Europe received 400,000 people by sea, while so far in 2020 there were 46,000. "Is this a threat to European welfare," the NGO asks.

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