Nine MEPs* from GUE/NGL are on their way to the Greek island of Lesbos where they will meet with asylum seekers who have been left without shelter after last week’s devastating fire at Moria.
More than 12,000 people were said to be living in Moria at the time of the disaster on 8th September, and all have been left to sleep rough in the open air.
Although a number of EU member states have announced plans to relocate and take in a number of asylum seekers since the fire, thousands more remain stranded, with the Greek government determined to rehouse them in a new camp.
On Friday 18th, the MEPs will see for the themselves what is left of Moria and will visit the clinic run by Médecins sans frontières, followed by a visit to the new camp at Kara Tepe where UNHCR will present an overview of the situation to the delegation.
There follows meetings with the Greek Council for Refugees, HIAS Greece, Legal Center Lesbos and Solidarity for All. A visit to the independently-run, open camp PIKPA Center is also included in the itinerary.
On Saturday 19th, the delegation will meet with Frontex and the European Asylum Support Office based in Lesbos. They will then hold discussions with the presidents of the villages of Moria, Thermi, Panagiouda, Pamfyla and Mytilene to learn more about the impact on local communities on the island. The mission will conclude at TABOUAT, a centre of temporary hosting for women & unaccompanied minors.
A press conference will also be held at around midday on Saturday in Lesbos.
The visit by Left MEPs comes ahead of the European Commission’s new Migration Pact, and it is likely to be a continuation of the deterrent policy with more human rights violation at EU’s external borders and in third countries.
Greek MEP Kostas Arvanitis (Syriza), who is organising this visit and had also visited Moria soon after the fire, says:
“We will be visiting Lesbos to assess the situation at first-hand.”
“We come to Lesbos, not only to express our solidarity to Moria’s displaced, but also to convey to a democratic Europe these people’s hardship, pain and insecurity, as well as those of the locals, who have watched their beloved home island become the centre of a humanitarian catastrophe.”
“‘Fortress Europe’, as envisioned by the EU’s right-wing leaders, has turned Greek islands into prisons for refugees. These leaders also choose to survey the situation from the safety and comfort of a helicopter – an insult to all refugees, migrants and locals.”
Cornelia Ernst (Die Linke, Germany), GUE/NGL’s coordinator at the Parliament’s civil liberties committee, says:
“The refugees in Lesbos are in need of safety and protection but it is impossible to guarantee their safety and protection in camps. However, we can provide them in other places across Europe.”
“Cities in Germany have declared themselves as ‘safe havens’ and we alone could take in upto 5000 people. It is the federal government that is blocking such a move – but not just in Germany.”
Before setting off for Lesbos, our MEPs also took part in the debate on Moria at the European Parliament in Brussels. You can watch their contributions here:
*The nine MEPs include Kostas Arvanitis (Syriza, Greece), Cornelia Ernst (Die Linke, Germany), Miguel Urbán Crespo (Anticapitalistas, Spain), Marisa Matias (Bloco de Esquerda, Portugal), Malin Björk (Vänsterpartiet, Sweden), Pernando Barrena (EH Bildu, Basque Country), Idoia Villanueva Ruiz (Podemos, Spain), Sira Rego (Izquierda Unida, Spain) and Petros Kokkalis (Syriza, Greece)