Meanwhile, the Ocean Viking rescue ship finds 11 people off the coast of Libya
Refugee rights groups condemned the European Union’s migrant deal with Turkey today on its fifth anniversary.
The 2016 deal, officially known as EU-Turkey Statement, allowed the Greek authorities to return to Turkey any person who had crossed into the country irregularly.
In return the Turkish government was to receive €3 billion Euros (£2.5bn) for refugee projects in the country.
Under the “temporary and extraordinary measure,” Greece was supposed to assess individual asylum claims at “Reception and Identification Centres.”
Due to the Greek authorities’ slow handling of asylum claims, these “reception centres” quickly became nothing more than overcrowded migrant detention camps.
After spending a few weeks on the streets, the migrants were corralled by the police into the Kara Tepe camp, which was hastily constructed beside the sea on an old military firing range.
Conditions inside Kara Tepe camp, which are no better than the former camp, has earned it the nickname Moria 2.
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Oxfam and five other human rights organisations released a joint statement today demanding “an end to containment and deterrence at the EU’s External Borders.”
The organisations warned the bloc’s migrant containment policy was central to the new European Pact on Migration and Asylum.
“The harmful effects of the containment policy have been documented repeatedly by the undersigned organisations,” the statement reads.
“Nearly half of the asylum seekers surveyed in these containment sites on the Greek islands have reported symptoms of PTSD, while 35 percent reported suicidal thoughts, and 18 percent reported having made attempts to take their own lives.
“Women and girls in particular are exposed to the risk of sexual and gender-based violence, and report being scared to leave their tents at night.
“The Director of the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency, Michael O’Flaherty, described the EU Hotspot Moria in Lesbos as ‘the single most worrying fundamental rights issue that we are confronting anywhere in the European Union’.”
Mare Liberum, a German-based organisation that ran a human rights monitoring ship in the Aegean Sea until the Germany government banned it from sailing — described the deal as part of a “shameful history of European border policy.”
“Although, the EU repeatedly invokes a common European identity, shaped by enlightenment and humanism, the expression ‘deal’ describes quite clearly the true attitude of the EU when it comes to enforcing normative guidelines,” it said.
“Its aim is still to prevent people on the move from reaching European soil at all costs and to deny them the protection and rights to which they are entitled.”
No Border Kitchen, an activist-led organisation that supports refugees in Lesbos, held commemorative protests to mark today’s anniversary.
The group said on Twitter today: “We commemorate not only the signing of the deal itself, but the people that suffered because of it; those who would be arrested, deported or pushed back at sea by the uniformed attack dogs of the state, on behalf of the EU and its liberal values; a system that sentences people to prison in a kangaroo court and gets away with it because they are ‘others’.”
Meanwhile European NGO SOS Mediterranee announced this afternoon that its rescue ship Ocean Viking had found 10 people in distress in a fibreglass boat off the coast of Libya today.
“Among the survivors are two women, one baby and three children,” SOS Mediterranee said.
“All women and children, including a one-year-old baby, were constantly vomiting on board the fibreglass boat.
“A medical assessment was performed by the medical doctor. She feared severe dehydration and exhaustion, especially for the children. They all are now under the care of our teams.
“During the rescue operation, one person onboard the fibreglass boat expressed the will not to be brought to the Ocean Viking and to go back to Libya.
“Our teams provided a lifejacket for safety purposes & the person was evacuated by the Libyan coastguard onboard their patrol vessel.”
Above image taken from inside Kara Tepe, a.k.a Moria 2 by @refugeemoria2