27th April 2020
To Ylva Johansson, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs,
ANOTHER FIRE, MORE LIVES IN DANGER: EUROPE MUST ACT!
On Sunday 26/04, another needless tragedy unfolded on the Aegean islands.
Two fires broke out consecutively in Vathy camp on Samos. As of midday 27th April, a third fire erupted. Reports state up to 2000 individuals have lost their tents and belongings. NGOs on the ground report that attempts to provide relief have been blocked by local authorities.
This news comes just 7 days after a fire swept through parts of Vial RIC in Chios (18th April 2020). There were also several fires in Lesbos, and on Moria Camp (March 2020). These fires were often caused by fights amongst camp residents. These tensions, and the fires caused by them, are the cumulative effects of subhuman conditions on hotspot island camps and the additional stress created by Covid-19 quarantine measures taken by authorities.
One tragedy after another. These events highlight how inherently flawed Europe’s current policy on migration and asylum is. Risking human lives is irresponsible governance at the highest level. Abandon policies that see human beings cooped up in overcrowded camps; we need a humane EU migration policy. How many more fires will it take before EU-leaders take necessary action?
As long as the EU does not act, lives are put at risk. There is strength and leadership in changing direction.
In this first quarter, fires have broken out with increasing frequency:
29th February Fire in Vial Camp, Chios
3rd March Fire at Chios solidarity warehouse, Lesvos
7th March Fire at One Happy Family centre, Lesvos
16th March Fire in Moria camp, Lesvos
28th March Fire in Moria burned down tents, Lesvos
10th April Fire in Moria burned down tents, Lesvos
16th April Fire in Moria camp, Lesvos
19th April Fire in Vial Camp, Chios
26th April Fire in Vathy Camp, Samos
COVID-19 complicates the situation, but it is not the root cause of the chaos now. The ongoing, gross negligence on the part of the EU Commission and Member States has led to this. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the EU Commission and Member States to find an immediate, humane solution to this humanitarian crisis that is threatening human lives and well-being.
Once again, we call on you to work with the Greek authorities and Member States to evacuate asylum seekers and refugees off the islands to Europe. This must happen now. There can be no compromises on human rights.
We demand a statement from the EU Commission on this emergency situation on the Aegean Islands. Silence is not an option.
Europe Must Act