Europe, Don't Turn Your Back on Asylum: Let People In

Mohammad Ghannam/MSF

Today Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) issued an open letter, addressed to the leaders of European Member States and European Institutions, that strongly condemns the EU-Turkey deal as an abdication of Europe’s moral and legal responsibility to provide asylum to those in need.

"This deal threatens the right of all people to seek asylum and violates your obligation to assist each man, woman, or child asking for protection," writes Dr. Joanne Liu, international president of MSF. "Pushing people back to their country of last transit transforms asylum into nothing but a political bargaining chip to keep refugees as far away from European borders and the eyes of the European voting public as possible."

The EU-Turkey deal, signed in March, is the latest of a long string of policies that outsource the management of European migration to countries on the outskirts of Europe. This agreement is made yet worse by compensating Turkey financially and politically in return for preventing people from arriving in Europe and accepting deportees from Greece.

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"This deal is sending a troubling signal to the rest of the world: countries can buy their way out of providing asylum. If replicated by many nations, the concept of refugee will cease to exist. People will be trapped in warzones unable to flee for their lives, with no choice but to stay and die," states Dr. Liu.

The letter ends by imploring the leaders of Europe to respond humanely to the biggest worldwide displacement crisis in decades, instead of misusing their aid budget to hide suffering offshore.

"Many of your citizens have risen to this challenge by volunteering to help others, but your leadership has lagged behind for fear of potential political consequences," writes Dr. Liu. "We appeal to you, the leaders of Europe, to rise to the challenge: use your substantial resources to welcome and offer protection to those who need your help."

Click Here to Download the Letter

Walid, his pregnant wife and their two children left Iraq in February this year. It took them a month to reach the Greek island of Samos through Turkey, and after suffering a short yet traumatic stint of detention in Turkey, they are now in a makeshift detention center, waiting desperately for information on what their future holds. “I’m doing my best, but is this a way to treat human beings? They are supposed to protect us, not put us in a big cage like animals, without any information on when our case will be processed.” For more details see:
Mohammad Ghannam/MSF