MSF condemns attempts to deter migrants

2016-01-19 18:47
Two children sit on a beach after crossing with other refugees the Aegean Sea from Turkey to the Greek island of Lesbos. (Santi Palacios, AP)

Two children sit on a beach after crossing with other refugees the Aegean Sea from Turkey to the Greek island of Lesbos. (Santi Palacios, AP)

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Brussels - The aid group Doctors Without Borders said on Tuesday that attempts by various European Union nations to deter migrants have put thousands of people in danger and created more business for smugglers.

In a report it said border closures and tougher policing only encourage people seeking sanctuary or jobs to use other routes to get to Europe.

"Policies of deterrence, along with their chaotic response to the humanitarian needs of those who flee, actively worsened the conditions of thousands of vulnerable men, women and children," said the aid group's head of operations, Brice de le Vingne.

The group, also known as MSF, urged the EU to create more legal ways to come to Europe and allow asylum applications at the land border between Turkey and Greece.

More than 1 million migrants arrived in the EU last year, but they haven't always been welcomed.

The EU's four Central European members reconfirmed their fierce opposition to a plan to redistribute 120 000 asylum-seekers among the 28-nation bloc and called for the strict control and registration of all refugees on the external borders of the visa-free Schengen zone.

Representatives of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, who form an informal grouping known as the Visegrad Four or V4, say they are united against the redistribution plan.

Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec, who hosted Tuesday's meeting says: "The V4 countries still reject the system of compulsory quotas for relocation."

Officials from Slovenia and Serbia have warned that if Austria scales down the influx of refugees into the country, it would cause a domino effect and tensions down the so-called Balkan migrant corridor.

Slovenian Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec and Serbian counterpart Ivica Dacic called for a joint EU-backed plan to manage the crisis before an expected surge in the number of Europe-bound migrants in spring.

Meanwhile, the EU's top migration official says so-called hotspots should be up and running in Greece and Italy within a month in an effort to better control how migrants flow into the bloc and conduct early security checks on them.

The hotspots intended to register new arrivals, take fingerprints and other data, and perform background checks. Those with no chance of asylum would quickly be sent home, while others would be more evenly distributed among EU nations.

Read more on:    msf  |  eu  |  migrants

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