EU refugee policy: an unfulfilled promise

Status: 08.09.2021 11:30 a.m.

A disaster like Moria should not repeat itself – that was the tenor in the EU after the fire in the Greek camp a year ago. But little has changed in refugee policy since then.

By Alexander Göbel, ARD-Studio Brussels

It was not unusual for Erik Marquardt that Moria got a fire. The green European politician had traveled to Lesbos again and again for years to draw attention to the misery in Europe’s largest refugee camp. Often there were accidents with open flames. But the reports from the night of September 9, 2020 leave no doubt: The camp is completely on fire.

At first, Marquardt recalls, he could not have imagined – the videos showing people walking around screaming in fear, reporting the loss of everything that was left and even the identity papers: “That was a terrible one Night when I didn’t sleep either. “

The next day, Marquardt travels to Lesbos. He sees people fleeing the fire and security forces holding them with tear gas on the road between Moria and the island’s capital, Mytilene. The images of thousands of men, women and children who camp on the asphalt for days, sometimes without medical or other help, go around the world.

A traumatic night: The fire of September 8, 2020 also highlighted the grievances in EU refugee policy.

Image: dpa

No change in strategy

And yet, says Marquardt, just a few hours later – “even after this major failure of European asylum policy” – it was clear that nothing would change in the EU strategy. In retrospect, the MP calls it “really surreal”.

For the Green politician, Moria, along with its history and its consequences, has become a code – for systematic deterrence at the EU’s external borders, in favor of the goal of reducing the number of asylum applications year after year. For Marquardt, this includes the pushback allegations against the Greek government, i.e. the alleged pushing back of refugees on the sea, but also the strictly monitored evasive camp Mavrovouni on Lesbos, where around 3800 people – victims of the fire in Moria – are among the bad Living conditions in the simplest tents.

Praise from the commission

The EU Commissioner responsible, Ylva Johansson, prefers to praise Athens: The Mitsotakis government ensures that people with positive asylum decisions are brought to the mainland and better accommodation is built on the islands in the Aegean. The EU’s goal has always been: “No new Morias,” emphasizes Johansson, and that is why she is happy that work on a new reception center is also making progress on Lesbos, “so that the situation will ease up before next winter, both for the migrants as well as for the population “.

The EU is providing 276 million euros for five hotspot warehouses. There the processing of asylum applications should be more effective and faster, the accommodation should correspond to “European standards”.

On the island of Samos, refugees are housed in huts near the town of Vathy – the question of a perspective for them remains unanswered.

Image: AP

Warnings from Parliament

No new morias! Critics like Marquardt don’t believe the Commission can keep that promise. For Lena Düpont, MEP of the CDU, however, hotspot camps are not in themselves the problem. Rather, long procedures and the still missing return agreements with third countries and countries of origin led to the situation in Moria and in other camps spiraling out of control. The EU Parliament warned against this for years.

Since there are now only around 6,000 refugees living on Lesbos, Samos, Chios, Kos and Leros – and no longer 40,000 as a year ago – there is new room for maneuver, said Düpont. Perhaps now for the first time “there will be an opportunity to build humanity and order as we imagine, with orderly, fair procedures, which of course comply with the standards of human rights and fundamental rights, before the next pressure to migrate arises”.

Fear of numbers increasing again

The CDU politician alludes to the crisis in Afghanistan. Not only in Athens, but also in other European capitals, it is feared that this could increase the number of refugees again. “We knew beforehand that we had little time, now it’s even more urgent,” says Düpont.

That is why the MEP hopes that the member states of the EU will now make a new attempt to make progress in asylum and migration policy. Because: A proposal from the EU Commission has been on the table of the Council and Parliament for a year. But with regard to the distribution of refugees among the member states, nothing is still moving.

Even a year after Moria, many EU countries do not even want to talk about solidarity, the core of a new asylum and migration pact as drafted by Brussels.

One year after the Moria fire: what lessons is the EU drawing?

Alexander Göbel, HR Brussels, 8.9.2021 10:29 a.m.

Source link