First, it was the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees that declared it is moving out of the Moria camp on the island of Lesvos, a Hot Spot open access facility turned into a closed “detention center” via the EU-Turkey deal of last Friday.
In a statement the UNHCR said that the Agency’s policy “opposes mandatory detention,” and that therefore that UNHCR has “suspended some of activities at all closed centres on the islands. This includes provision of transport to and from these sites” However, the UNHCR stresses it will maintain a presence to carry out protection monitoring to ensure that refugee and human rights standards are upheld, to provide information on the rights and procedures to seek asylum, keep providing “life-saving assistance (including transport to hospitals where needed) and counseling new arrivals on asylum in Greece, on family reunification and access to services as well as identifying people with specific needs.
Majoor motive for the decision is the UNHCR’s concern that “the EU-Turkey deal is being implemented before the required safeguards are in place in Greece.”
On the same wave-length is also NGO “Medicins sans Frontiers” (Doctors without Borders) that also announced the end of operation in Moria Hot Spot a day later.
“The decision comes following the EU Turkey deal which will lead to the forced return of migrants and asylum seekers from the Greek Island,” the MSF said in a statement. Describing the new system of detention centers as “unfair and inhumane,” the MSF Greece stressed it will not allow the Mission’s “assistance to be instrumentalized for a mass expulsion operation and we refuse to be part of a system that has no regard for the humanitarian or protect.”
The MSF closes all activities linked to the “hotspot” of Moria, including the transportation of refugees to the center and the water and sanitation activities and medical clinic inside it, but will continue to run its transit center in Mantamados where new arrivals are offered first assistance and its sea rescue activities on the northern beaches of Lesvos, as well as to run mobile clinics on the island of Lesvos for those outside of the hot spot location.
Meanwhile, in the Idomeni camp with the thousands of refugees and migrants boiling with anger over the closed borders, dozens of angry people tried to hinder NGOs from distributing dinner last night and breakfast this morning. Protesters were shouting “go, go, no food, no water” to NGO personnel and volunteers apparently trying to enforce the whole camp to go on hunger strike. The action actually started on Tuesday night, when even parents initially refused to have milk for their children. Greek NGO Praksis left the area, others followed out of fear for their safety. Wednesday noon, the UNHCR and the Greek Red Cross returned.
The Greek Army could provide food if NGO’s leave, but as Defense Minister Panos Kammenos stressed “the Army is not a catering service.”
Refugees refuse to leave Idomeni for the accommodation centers hoping to borders opening.
PS Guess what! As the EU will hand out millions of Euros to NGOs and IGOs when the funds will be finally approve – around middle of April – there will be no agency around to get Juncker’s money. In such EU deals, normally small ngo’s are excluded from funding.