Top EU official condemned for window-dressing the containment of refugees

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HUMAN RIGHTS groups have condemned a top European Union official for window-dressing the bloc’s policy of containing refugees at Europe’s edges.

Today, EU home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson was helicoptered to the Greek islands to visit a new “migrant border reception centre” on Samos, before being taken to the squalid Kara Tepe camp on Lesbos.

Dubbed Moria II by activists and those detained there, the Kara Tepe camp was hastily built on a former military-weapons testing ground to house those made homeless when the vastly overcrowded Moria camp burnt down last summer.

In a blog post prior to the trip, Ms Johansson said that the EU has put aside €155 million (£132m) to build reception centres on Lesbos and Chios and another €122m (£104m) for smaller centres on Samos, Kos and Leros.

“These are facilities that will not be closed, they will be humane, and allow for areas for families and vulnerable people. They will allow children to get schooling — essential so that precious years are not wasted,” she claimed. “But they will also be designed to make the process fair and efficient, including for those who are not allowed to stay.”

Stephan Oberrei, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) head of operations in Greece, said the visit showed that EU leaders live in a parallel universe.

“Thousands of men, women and children continue to suffer every day in the Europe’s camps in Samos and Lesbos,” Mr Oberrei said. “Moreover, nothing seems to indicate that the model of containment that created hells like Moria and Vathy and recurrent emergencies over the past five years has ever been called into question by the EU.

“We have said it several times: continuing to clone and repackage the containment model is the best receipt for a catastrophe — and this is exactly what these new camps are. They said: ‘No more Morias,’ but they will just replicate new Morias again and again.”

Alarm Phone, an activist network that operates a distress hotline for refugees at sea, including those forced back to Turkey by the Greek coastguard, said: “Ylva Johansson’s visit to the camp on Samos is equivalent to a warden’s visit at the prison they manage.”

Greece-based human rights monitoring organisation Mare Liberum took aim at Ms Johansson for failing to hold the Greek coastguard to account.

“Since March 2020, over 10,914 migrants have been illegally pushed back to Turkey by the Hellenic coastguard and [European border and coastguard agency] Frontex,” a spokeswoman told the Star.

“Johansson’s statement during her visit that she is ‘very concerned’ about the matter and that the ‘Greek authorities can do more’ to investigate is a cynical joke in the face of those systematic crimes against humanity.”

Source: Morning Star

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