Athens, Greece, September 20, 2016 —
The International Rescue Committee’s country director in Greece, Panos Navrozidis said:
"Last night’s fires at Moria on the Greek island of Lesbos symbolize the shortcomings of the European response to the refugee crisis. Moria has been operating at over-capacity for months now with refugees crammed into the facility with limited infrastructure in place, limited access to water, and in conditions that do not meet humanitarian standards. The systems put in place under the EU-Turkey deal to process their asylum claims and determine their future are opaque and inconsistent. Preferential treatment based on nationality has led to tensions within the community. While lamentable, it is no wonder that Moria residents have reached breaking point.
"Moria serves as a stark reminder to world leaders meeting in New York City today to discuss the global refugee crisis of the flawed and deeply questionable policies put in place by the EU-Turkey deal, and the responsibility that Greece continues to shoulder for the broader refugee crisis in Europe.
"Global leaders have an opportunity today to commit to a more humanitarian response to the global refugee crisis, one that focuses on legal routes – like resettlement – to ensure that the world’s most vulnerable people have avenues to sanctuary that do not involve, first of all, risking their lives and those of their families in an attempt to reach safety, and second, having to endure an interminable wait in over-crowded, unacceptable conditions as the powers that be determine their fate. Surely, world leaders can do much better than this."
The IRC’s team on Lesbos responded to the immediate needs of refugees returning to Moria last night by providing family tents, mattresses and sleeping bags to be used as needed. We have also offered our assistance to UNHCR and the Greek government to assist in their response. The IRC would like to see commitments from all parties involved in this response to dramatically improve conditions at Moria.
More information about the IRC’s response to the Europe Refugee Crisis here.
The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 29 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.