Greece refugee crisis: demand action from your MP
Are you horrified by events now unfolding in the Greece refugee crisis?
If you would like to take action now, please write to your local MP by (1) entering your postcode by clicking here, and (2) using or amending the suggested letter below. Please note that the draft letter below was adapted from a letter written by Dr Annie Chapman, whose recent article was featured as a special report in the Observer.
Dear [MP NAME],
I’m writing to urge immediate action and international intervention on the Greek island of Lesvos, in accordance with international and humanitarian law.
The Aegean Islands have descended into crisis. Five years of neglectful EU policy has finally culminated in days of strikes and protests, violence, and extreme danger for refugees, volunteers working for NGOs on the islands, and locals.
Turkey announced it was opening its border to Europe last weekend, and in response Greece officially decided to suspend the fundamental human right to seek asylum for the next month, as well as deploying major military forces to the border. Neither of these actions is permitted by international law.
As the events on Lesvos unfold, the UK is once again impotent and the silence in our media is deafening.
Events since Saturday 29th February 2020 on the island include the following:
- Local militia mobs have taken to the streets. They are intercepting boats carrying refugees from Turkey to Greece and beating them as they come ashore. (Source: Aljezeera, ‘Islanders on Lesbos block camp and port as refugee arrivals spike’/ ‘Border Crossing’ Journalist, videos on Facebook).
- The Hellenic Coastguard are no longer responding to boats in distress adequately; two children drowned this morning off the coast of Lesvos, and many more people have been hospitalised (Source: Aegean Boat Report 02/03/20). The Hellenic Coastguard has been filmed driving large boats very fast past refugee dinghies in an obvious attempt to capsize the boats, attacking small boats, or not responding to calls at all (Source: ‘Border Crossing’, Journalist).
- The violence has turned towards volunteers working for NGOs, demonised as part of the problem. They have been attacked by local Greek groups and beaten (Source: Molwnlave). They are now forced to stay inside their houses with lights off, meaning there is no NGO help on shore or in the camps (including medical aid).
- Locals have made a road block between the city of Mytillini and Moria refugee camp (currently holding 22,000 refugees), meaning food supplies and medical help cannot get to the camp and the people there are isolated (Source: Aljezeera, as above).
- On 1 March 2020, the original reception centre for refugees was burnt down and can no longer be used, fostering a climate of fear and violence and sending a clear message to refugees (Source: Refugee Rescue).
- On 2 March 2020, The Greek Army started a military exercise with LIVE AMMUNITION, shooting towards the area where most of the refugee boats are crossing. This will be ongoing 24/7 until further notice (Source: Aegean Boat Report).
- The first victim of Greek fire – a Syrian man – was killed at the land border this morning by a bullet in the neck (Source: Sharif Mugh, BBC Correspondent).
This is not a problem for Greece alone. For too long, the international community has been silent, offering no help as it is not physically our shores receiving these people.
I am asking for:
- Immediate discussion and action in parliament and with the wider international community on a solution to move people from the Greek islands to a place of safety for processing in accordance with obligations set out under Article 78(3) of the TFEU and the 2001 Directive on Temporary Protection
- Recognition of the need for NGOs to continue to act on Lesvos, and the promise of safety and protection for them from the Greek / international security forces while they do this in accordance with Humanitarian Law
- An immediate international recognition of and request for a halt to the Greek Army’s military action using live ammunition off the coast of Lesvos and at the land border.
I remain steadfast in my belief that asylum seekers and refugees have the right to legal processes, and that political irresponsibility can be made good through effective and humane policy governance.
Ignorance is no longer an excuse. Europe must act.
Yours sincerely and with hope,