September 9, 2020
Another tragic event brings to the fore the Greek and European inability to manage an evolving crisis with sobriety and humanity. The fire that burned Moria last night is not the first. Moria’s facilities have been partially burned repeatedly, demonstrating in practice the inadequacy of the installation and the lack of efficient safety and protection measures. We have mourned victims in Moria in the past, deaths on the territory of Greece and the rest of Europe, deaths occurring in times of peace time and not in times of war that could have been avoided if respect for the humanitarian imperative and observance of international humanitarian law prevailed.
Without coherent reception and asylum policies, such tragedies will continue to occur, confirming in the worst way the ineffectiveness of the deterrence policies implemented. MdM-Greece have reiterated this position several times and have repeatedly warned of the dramatic consequences of current policies in place, supporting the alternative of safe pathways and humanitarian corridors for refugees from third countries to Europe.
Our country and Europe are experiencing a crisis of reception and solidarity having turned a manageable situation into a humanitarian crisis. Abhorrent living conditions, the deprivation of basic services and goods that violate all notions of humanism and law, are not a necessity. Insted certain political choices exacerbate the problem rather than contributing to sustainable and humanely acceptable solutions. It is ultimately the absurd geographical restriction imposed by the informal EU-Turkey agreement in 2016 that has confined tens of thousands of people on the islands; it is the short-sighted and populist policies, fueling the development of extremist behavior and hate speech, that exacerbate and further complicate the situation.
In the midst of a pandemic, Moria’s ~12,000 stranded people, like all “closed” populations, are more vulnerable to transmission. Since the beginning of the outbreak of the pandemic in our country, MdM-Greece have designed realistic and feasible response plans for camps and alternative accommodation facilities in order to manage and control in a timely manner the possibility of further transmission of the disease. Unfortunately, these plans were not implemented on the basis of the first, “good” diagnostic tests in Moria that did not indicate the existence or spread of the disease.
While a full assessment of the damages inside Moria camp is ongoing, MdM-Greece team is present in the field and ready to assist in any way possible. The organization’s mobile medical unit is now at the center of Moria, assisting in efforts to identify potential victims and assessing new needs. MdM-Greece staff in Athens are preparing a first, emergency load of NFIs, medicines and medical consumables to be sent to the island while also scaling up efforts towards a more holistic response. We call on the state, international organizations, civil society, our colleagues and ordinary citizens to safeguard the human rights of the people on the move. Refugees and migrants are first and foremost human beings.