Today [Friday 18th March 2016] EU leaders are holding talks with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Brussels in an attempt to reach a deal over the refugee crisis. Mike Noyes, Head of Humanitarian Response at ActionAid UK calls on EU leaders to remember the people at the heart of this crisis. He said:
“Despite being one of the biggest donors to the Syria crisis, the UK is at the bottom of the heap in its response to the refugees crisis, taking in only a tiny amount of refugees and refusing to share the load with other EU members states.
“Already European border closures and restrictions are dramatically worsening the humanitarian crisis for refugees living in desperate conditions around Europe. Yet the proposals that are being laid on the table – bribing Turkey to take care of the problem and today’s suggestion by the UK Prime Minister to turn refugee boats back to Libya – are simply knee-jerk reactions and do not solve the real crisis.
“These proposals ignore the people at the heart of this crisis, mothers and children, fleeing a civil war they did not cause and risking everything to come to Europe in search of safety and compassion. All across Europe, it seems the primary concern of governments is to protect borders, not people living in fear. To send them back is immoral, dangerous and as experts on refugee law have pointed out, possibly illegal.
“ActionAid works in Lesvos, running women friendly centres on the island. There our staff met Robin, a mother who was completely distraught after being separated from her children as they fled the fighting in Syria. Now, rather than helping to reunite her with her children, as she has a right to under international law, the EU is proposing to send patrol ships to keep them apart – this is abhorrent.
“This week marked five years since the start of the crisis in Syria, and five years of Europe neglecting its duty to support those arriving on its shores asking for help. A political solution for Syria must be agreed as a matter of urgency and the UK government must step up its response by ensuring it takes in a greater number of refugees both from Syria and those who have already arrived in Europe.”
For interviews and further information please contact Cora Bauer at ActionAid on Tel: +44 (0)203 122 0767 ; Mob: +44 (0)778 789 7467 or firstname.lastname@example.org