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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 15-09-28

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] EU, Greece must fix 'disgraceful' reception conditions for refugees, MSF's Joanne Liu tells ANA-MPA

  • [01] EU, Greece must fix 'disgraceful' reception conditions for refugees, MSF's Joanne Liu tells ANA-MPA

    ANA-MPA -- With scorching criticism against all those responsible for the "disgraceful" reception conditions greeting refugees on Greece's islands, the International President of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) - Doctors Without Borders Joanne Liu told the ANA-MPA that she was "deeply outraged" by what she had seen while visiting Greece over the weekend. "It's a disgrace today for us to have to beg for a minimum of decency to be shown to the migrants and refugees arriving in the Greek islands....States can not treat people who are fleeing from countries where there are wars like criminals and perceive them as threats," she underlined. Liu was in Greece last weekend in order to examine conditions for refugees at close hand, visiting the island of Lesbos and Eidomeni, as well as Victoria Square in Athens and the port of Piraeus. In an interview with the ANA-MPA shortly before her departure on Sunday, the Canadian paediatrician also said that European leaders had displayed a "tremendous lack of courage and humanity" at their recent EU summit. "The EU, the Greek state and the UNHCR have to take their responsibilities and basic and humane reception needs to be organized now on all Greek islands," she said. The MSF provide medical care and reception support services to newly arrived refugees on the islands of Kos and Lesbos. They have recently launched a mobile medical unit for the Dodecanese island group and provide medical care and aid supplies in Eidomeni. The full interview is given below:

    1. What did you see in Lesvos and Eidomeni regarding the refugees and their living conditions?

    I find it disgraceful that in the 21st century, in a European country, the basic human and decent reception conditions are not met. There is right now no more food distributions in Lesbos and insufficient shelter options for the people arriving. On an island like Kos, there is not a single place where the people can find shelter, food and access toilets and showers. The one place that used to exist and where Medecins sans frontieres was working - the Captain Elias Camp - was shut down two weeks ago. These living conditions have a clear impact on the health of our patients. Beyond the living conditions on the islands, what is striking is the distress and vulnerability that I saw in the refugees and migrants I met. The relief and exuberance they feel when they arrive, after surviving the boat trip from Turkey, is short-lived and quickly gives way to anxiety. The Greek islands are for them only the beginning of a long journey into the unknown, across many different countries. A journey which I would describe as the heart of darkness: they don't know what will happen, they're constantly on their guard, like trapped animals in a maze.

    2. Which are the responsibilities of the Greek authorities and what responsibilities do you believe that the European Union has for this situation?

    It's a disgrace today for us to have to beg for a minimum of decency to be shown to the migrants and refugees arriving in the Greek islands. Minimum decency is a right and there are reception standards in the European Union that member states should observe. I'm deeply outraged by what I've seen. It's completely unacceptable that people have to sleep on the ground in Lesbos, in Kos, in Leros to just name a few, that they have no access to food and no access to toilets there. I would also like to add that everybody has a right to hope for and dream of a brighter future. We can not take that from people. States can not treat people who are fleeing from countries where there are wars like criminals and perceive them as threats.

    3. How do you comment on the European leaders' summit decisions?

    It is to me the sign of a tremendous lack of courage and humanity on the side of the European leaders. A human crisis cannot be simplified to figures. It's as if they decided to bury their heads in the sand. They refuse to understand that fences, winter and inhumane reception conditions will not deter people looking for survival to seek refuge in Europe. There is nothing in the EU leaders' proposal in terms of offering alternatives to the dangerous sea crossing, there is still no safe passage for these people to seek asylum in Europe and no welcome. We are not talking about generosity here, we are talking about states' obligations and common responsibility.

    4.You met many refugees during your visit to Lesvos and Eidomeni. Which was the most moving story that they shared with you?

    One conversation that I am - among many others - going to take back with me, is a Syrian family trying to explain to me why they had left their home country in Lesbos and saying: "every day in Syria we die".

    5. What is your personal vision and target about MSF's mission regarding the refugees?

    Today, the priority is to ensure that the basic needs of the people are met (meaning shelter, food and basic hygiene with toilets and showers) for their dignity. The EU, the Greek state and the UNHCR have to take their responsibilities and basic and humane reception needs to be organized now on all Greek islands.


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