On 2 October 2020, Greek Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Kostas Papadakis of the Non-attached Members posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:
“33 members of four NGOs have been arrested in Lesbos on charges of human trafficking and espionage.
Aside from any criminal liability of these NGO workers, responsibility also lies with the EU governments, which have together decided to place refugee management in the hands of various NGOs. The latter have received millions of euros in funding, while government agencies have been left understaffed. Permanent confinement on Lesbos and other Aegean islands has been the solution chosen under the EU-Turkey agreement, while the new Pact on Migration and Asylum presented by the Commission has further underpinned the reactionary policies adopted leading to the inhuman conditions of confinement on the Moria camp and elsewhere.
How does the Commission view demands for:
1. a halt to NGO involvement and to any direct or indirect funding thereof;
2. the closure of all hotspots on the islands and the release of refugees and migrants, transferring them to humane facilities on the mainland before allowing them to proceed without delay to their countries of destination;
3. the provision of fully-staffed state institutions and infrastructures responsible for migrant rescue, accommodation, health and care, with no NGO involvement and the permanent reassignment of NGO workers to public bodies responsible for ensuring humane conditions and transfer of inmates to temporary accommodation on the mainland before allowing them to proceed to their countries of destination?”
On 25 January 2021, Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “Member States select the beneficiaries under their National Programmes of the Asylum, Migration and Integration and the Internal Security Funds. The Commission provides emergency assistance under these funds upon request of the eligible entities and evaluates applications based on established criteria.
Under direct management, non-governmental organisations can only be co-beneficiaries or apply for funding if this is stipulated in the relevant Work Programme. The Commission monitors the projects through reports and monitoring visits. Organisations should continue their support to migrants in compliance with the national law and in good cooperation with competent national authorities.
The hotspot approach has ensured the identification, registration and fingerprinting of migrants arriving to Greece. The Commission has supported the Greek authorities in improving the living conditions in the new multi-purpose facilities by reinforcing the provision of healthcare, funding winterisation works, funding transfers to the mainland and by helping accelerate the asylum procedures.
Most vulnerable asylum-seekers have been transferred from the islands to safe accommodation in the mainland. Moreover, the Commission coordinates and finances voluntary relocations from Greece.
The Commission has set up a Taskforce that will implement a joint pilot with the Greek authorities for the construction of new multi-purpose facility on Lesvos and will help ensure effective migration management. The Commission has also awarded a grant agreement of EUR 121 million for the construction of new multi-purpose facilities on Samos, Kos and Leros.”
Photo Credit : https://pixabay.com/illustrations/refugees-europe-save-asylum-crisis-1156245/