04 September 2015

ECRE has released an urgent call to the EU and its Member States for greater solidarity in light of the deepening refugee crisis in Greece, accompanied by an op-ed by ECRE Secretary-General, Michael Diedring, reinforcing his call for responsibility and solidarity following his visit to Greece.

The current exceptional situation in Greece has seen a dramatic increase in the number of refugees arriving over the summer – an increase that is overwhelming the collective response efforts on islands such as Lesvos, according to organisations such as the International Rescue Committee. ECRE thus calls for an immediate and substantial increase in emergency support to those assisting newly arriving refugees, with additional funding needed for NGOs in Greece to help them provide accommodation, nutrition, healthcare, accurate information and access to legal assistance.

Equally, while the engagement of civil society has been laudable, and much needed, this cannot replace the Greek government’s obligation to provide adequate reception conditions. To this end, ECRE appeals to the Greek government to take responsibility for the situation and for European solidarity in support of these efforts.   

An initial step the EU can take in support of Greece would be increasing the relocation effort for Greece to at least 70,000 persons within a year. The EU’s recently reached agreement to relocate 32,256 persons from Italy and Greece is clearly insufficient following the increase of people arriving on Greek shores this summer. A significantly more relocation effort will be needed in a much shorter time for such solidarity measures to have any meaningful impact on the resilience of the Greek asylum system and the onward movement of refugees to other EU Member States. Immediate action is required.

Longer term, ECRE calls for the greater use of family reunification provisions under EU law, and for the European Union to open more safe and legal channels for refugees to come to Europe so that they are not forced to risk their lives, or use unscrupulous smugglers. Safe and legal channels will allow Europe to organise the reception of people in a planned, humane, and dignified manner.

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