Outcry grows over EU deal on refugees

EU decisions on what to do with the more than one million migrants seeking refuge was in danger of turning Greece into an indefinite refugee camp, Caritas, the international Catholic relief agency warned.

Outcry grows over EU deal on refugees

They were echoing the reaction of many members of the European Parliament to decisions by EU leaders with Turkey earlier this week, and to the announcement of a trebling of funds to help countries, mainly Greece, to cope with the thousands of refugees now trapped as other countries closed their borders.

The original EU budget to help refugees for this year was €188.98m and has now been increased to €464m following a request from member state leaders.

They also agreed on a mechanism to allow emergency money to be distributed more quickly to those dealing with large numbers of refugees.

But the outcry from politicians and international bodies has been growing as the details are being finalised by experts behind the scenes in time for next week’s summit when EU leaders are expected to sign off on a deal with Turkey to take back and keep migrants from crossing their border.

MEPs demanded to know the details of the deal with Turkey and warned that international asylum rules must be respected.

The European Parliament also reminded the European Commission and member states that the Parliament will have to agree to money from the EU budget for Turkey.

Turkey has been promised €6bn over a number of years with €2bn coming from the EU budget. The Parliament will also have to agree to a change in visa rules allowing Turks visa-free entry to the EU for short stays of up to three months.

The deal to send back all asylum seekers to Turkey that enter after the deal comes into force was specifically condemned by many, including the leader of the left-wing GUE party, Gabi Zimmer.

“No one including the European Union, is allowed trade in human being and fundamental rights agreements”, she said.

“Anyone who shakes the hand of this Turkish government is completely giving up on the values of human rights and solidarity. The current Turkish government kills its own citizens.”

Caritas Europa said the funds suggested the EU was now willing to consider the situation as a humanitarian crisis, and so surrendering to populists and fear mongers.

However, while the funding was needed, the EU needed to deal with the solidarity crisis which was putting at stake the entire EU project.

“EU member states must start by abiding to the pledge of relocating 160,000 people and find solutions that will give people a future to believe in”, they said in a statement.

They should change plans to erect borders around Greece and stop outsourcing the management of migration to non-EU countries.

They quoted the national co-ordinator for Caritas Greece, Evelyn Karastamati, as reporting that the atmosphere was very tense with people lacking tents, warm food, clothes and enough water to keep clean.

“This is a European problem that requires European solutions. Solidarity between member states is needed now more than ever to defeat the globalisation of indifference and the uprising of populistic movements.

“Quick-fix emergency funding alone will not suffice. On the contrary, the solutions must consider the long-term reality”, the statement said.

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