Activisim

Our Statement on Moria

It is high time for any government that still holds anything of our common European values to act and intervene to prevent further suffering.

Moria has been burning for two days. It's not the first time, but it might be the last. Moria no longer exists. 


Regardless of who may have started the fires: the conditions that made this escalation possible in the first place are a direct consequence of the European policies of closure. Deterrence is intended to prevent the notorious "pull factors" whose existence have been refuted several times. Even if this is hardly ever said directly by those responsible for the government, the miserable conditions in Moria - just as in Libya and other places - were deliberately created.

 

Even if some European countries are now speaking out in favor of accepting people from Moria, the inhumane strategy still prevails. The Austrian government made this alarmingly clear yesterday. The Minister of the Interior Nehammer denies all 13,000 people in Moria their human right to asylum because some of them are unofficially suspected of having started the fires. 


That he says this is bad enough. The way he says it makes it even worse. Schallenberg openly says that the people must remain in the camp that no longer exists so that no others are able to follow them. The Foreign Minister also hints that the future of European migration policy should be to use trade and development policies to force increased cooperation with third countries to either prevent people from leaving or continue their journey to Europe.
 

The ministers of the Austrian government pronounce these cold-blooded words with the self-confidence that they have the majority of EU members behind them. Schallenberg is certain that the EU will find an agreement on the proposal of the Commission which will be presented at the end of this month. 

 

Most other EU countries do not express themselves as openly as the Austrian government. But the last months and years have shown that the brutal policy of isolation, deterrence and human right violations is the consensus. 


Germany took over the presidency of the EU Council in the summer. One of the goals set for it is an agreement on migration policy. This has been repeatedly defined as externalisation, repatriation and distribution.


In light of the Corona crisis, Berlin and Thuringia have offered to accept people from Moria. The NGO Mission Lifeline collected donations to charter two airplanes and bring the people to Germany on their own. They could have been accommodated in empty hotels. But the German Minister of the Interior Seehofer prevented both. Citing a need to wait for "a European solution", he denied people in need the access to help that would have been readily available.


The same occurrence happened in hundreds of communities throughout the EU. In Germany, 178 municipalities declared themselves safe harbours. In Austria, more than 100 municipalities declared themselves willing to accept refugees from Greece. So did many other cities and communities in other EU countries such as Spain, Italy or the Netherlands. Yet again and again, their governments stand in their way. 


This has been the reality for years. It was long clear that the situation in Moria would escalate sooner or later. The conditions had been inhumane long before COVID-19 and the fire. All experts in the field explained that they had never seen a camp of such misery anywhere else in the world. Even the conditions in camps of the poorest countries such as Bangladesh are far better than those in the biggest refugee camp of the European Union. This only goes to show that Moria was an intentionally created humanitarian crisis and could easily have looked very differently. 


The miserable conditions in the camps are worsened by several other measures. For years the EU has not carried out any sea rescue. Private initiatives that take over this state task are blocked and criminalised. Frontex missions are openly remodeled from search and rescue missions to pure border protection missions. Frontex soldiers who refuse to participate in criminal pushbacks by the Greek government are expelled. 


The EU is a Nobel Peace Prize winner and proudly presents its values wherever it can. But at the European level the discussion is not about values - it is about hard pragmatism in the face of the collective unwillingness to pursue sustainable, humane answers to the complex issues of our times. The ideas being discussed are anything but solutions. The only consensus the EU seems capable of is deterrence. 


This completely ignores the causes of flight, to which the EU makes a major contribution. And then in dealing with the results, the European authorities completely ignore EU law and international law and deny even the most basic human rights.


We can see this is when things become dangerous. The populist politics of recent years have already collectively blunted us to such an extent that it is possible to discuss whether human rights should really apply to all people. That in itself is already indisputable racism, hidden as pragmatism. But Austrian Foreign Minister Schallenberg goes a step further when he implies that we have to become blunted to be pragmatic enough to accept the suffering and death of thousands and thousands of people - just so that we don't have to deal with the problems of our global society.


No matter if it is geopolitical conflicts, unequal distribution of resources, an exploitative economic system or destruction of the environment: the solution of the EU, proud Nobel Peace Prize winner, is to look away, isolate and increase suffering in other parts of the world, driven by its own racist and egoistical interests.


An European solution is not in sight. But to return to Moria, the occasion but not the reason for this text: The failure of the EU and the racism of other member states must not be used as an excuse to let people continue to suffer. Especially not when capacities are available and so many people, communities, organisations and municipalities are willing and able to help. It is high time to any government that still holds anything of our common European values to act and intervene to prevent further suffering.






Image Credits: Banksy

Moria has been burning for two days. It's not the first time, but it might be the last. Moria no longer exists. 


Regardless of who may have started the fires: the conditions that made this escalation possible in the first place are a direct consequence of the European policies of closure. Deterrence is intended to prevent the notorious "pull factors" whose existence have been refuted several times. Even if this is hardly ever said directly by those responsible for the government, the miserable conditions in Moria - just as in Libya and other places - were deliberately created.

 

Even if some European countries are now speaking out in favor of accepting people from Moria, the inhumane strategy still prevails. The Austrian government made this alarmingly clear yesterday. The Minister of the Interior Nehammer denies all 13,000 people in Moria their human right to asylum because some of them are unofficially suspected of having started the fires. 


That he says this is bad enough. The way he says it makes it even worse. Schallenberg openly says that the people must remain in the camp that no longer exists so that no others are able to follow them. The Foreign Minister also hints that the future of European migration policy should be to use trade and development policies to force increased cooperation with third countries to either prevent people from leaving or continue their journey to Europe.
 

The ministers of the Austrian government pronounce these cold-blooded words with the self-confidence that they have the majority of EU members behind them. Schallenberg is certain that the EU will find an agreement on the proposal of the Commission which will be presented at the end of this month. 

 

Most other EU countries do not express themselves as openly as the Austrian government. But the last months and years have shown that the brutal policy of isolation, deterrence and human right violations is the consensus. 


Germany took over the presidency of the EU Council in the summer. One of the goals set for it is an agreement on migration policy. This has been repeatedly defined as externalisation, repatriation and distribution.


In light of the Corona crisis, Berlin and Thuringia have offered to accept people from Moria. The NGO Mission Lifeline collected donations to charter two airplanes and bring the people to Germany on their own. They could have been accommodated in empty hotels. But the German Minister of the Interior Seehofer prevented both. Citing a need to wait for "a European solution", he denied people in need the access to help that would have been readily available.


The same occurrence happened in hundreds of communities throughout the EU. In Germany, 178 municipalities declared themselves safe harbours. In Austria, more than 100 municipalities declared themselves willing to accept refugees from Greece. So did many other cities and communities in other EU countries such as Spain, Italy or the Netherlands. Yet again and again, their governments stand in their way. 


This has been the reality for years. It was long clear that the situation in Moria would escalate sooner or later. The conditions had been inhumane long before COVID-19 and the fire. All experts in the field explained that they had never seen a camp of such misery anywhere else in the world. Even the conditions in camps of the poorest countries such as Bangladesh are far better than those in the biggest refugee camp of the European Union. This only goes to show that Moria was an intentionally created humanitarian crisis and could easily have looked very differently. 


The miserable conditions in the camps are worsened by several other measures. For years the EU has not carried out any sea rescue. Private initiatives that take over this state task are blocked and criminalised. Frontex missions are openly remodeled from search and rescue missions to pure border protection missions. Frontex soldiers who refuse to participate in criminal pushbacks by the Greek government are expelled. 


The EU is a Nobel Peace Prize winner and proudly presents its values wherever it can. But at the European level the discussion is not about values - it is about hard pragmatism in the face of the collective unwillingness to pursue sustainable, humane answers to the complex issues of our times. The ideas being discussed are anything but solutions. The only consensus the EU seems capable of is deterrence. 


This completely ignores the causes of flight, to which the EU makes a major contribution. And then in dealing with the results, the European authorities completely ignore EU law and international law and deny even the most basic human rights.


We can see this is when things become dangerous. The populist politics of recent years have already collectively blunted us to such an extent that it is possible to discuss whether human rights should really apply to all people. That in itself is already indisputable racism, hidden as pragmatism. But Austrian Foreign Minister Schallenberg goes a step further when he implies that we have to become blunted to be pragmatic enough to accept the suffering and death of thousands and thousands of people - just so that we don't have to deal with the problems of our global society.


No matter if it is geopolitical conflicts, unequal distribution of resources, an exploitative economic system or destruction of the environment: the solution of the EU, proud Nobel Peace Prize winner, is to look away, isolate and increase suffering in other parts of the world, driven by its own racist and egoistical interests.


An European solution is not in sight. But to return to Moria, the occasion but not the reason for this text: The failure of the EU and the racism of other member states must not be used as an excuse to let people continue to suffer. Especially not when capacities are available and so many people, communities, organisations and municipalities are willing and able to help. It is high time to any government that still holds anything of our common European values to act and intervene to prevent further suffering.






Image Credits: Banksy

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