EU relocation programme must accelerate, say S&Ds
S&D MEPs Josef Weidenholzer and Ana Gomes raise awareness to the humanitarian situation in refugee camps in Greece.
Two members of an S&D delegation, Josef Weidenholzer and Ana Gomes, just returned from a fact-finding mission to the refugee camps Serres and Petra Olympou in Greece. The main objective of the mission was to understand the delay in the process of relocation of the Yazidi community, as well as to monitor the humanitarian situation on the ground.
Following their three-day fact-finding mission in the refugee camps Serres and Petra Olympou in Greece, Portuguese MEP Ana Gomes and Austrian MEP Josef Weidenholzer said:
“The relocation programme needs a special task force to connect the dots, provide faster information, decrease the bureaucratic hurdles and unburden Greek authorities.
“We were shaken by the appalling conditions in these two camps and kept asking ourselves how a situation like this can actually happen in Europe at all.”
More than 2,500 Yazidi people are living in dilapidated tents, without heating or access to electricity. The sanitary conditions are horrific; there are 30 toilets for 1,400 people. A majority of these people are orphaned children who have lost their parents and who are still traumatised by the brutal slaughter of relatives they’ve had to witness – so are most women in the camps, many of whom have been enslaved by ISIS, hence there is an urgent need for proper trauma care. Children and youths have not been schooled for three years. The cold temperatures, precipitation and bad hygienic conditions lead to illnesses, especially among the young ones.
“Under these conditions, winter is a real threat to these people”, added Josef Weidenholzer and Ana Gomes.
A special task force is needed
“The goal of our visit was to see the humanitarian situation on the ground and to understand why the relocation process is not working. At least one member state, Portugal, has repeatedly expressed its willingness to receive a group of Yazidis”, emphasises Anna Gomes.
In fact, only 200 refugees from Serres and 400 from Petra Olympou are fully registered, yet according to the latest information the relocation programme is slowly starting this week.
“What we need is a special task force to support the programme as best as is possible and connect the dots when it comes to providing background information, logistics and unsolved obstacles. This would reduce bureaucratic hurdles, accelerate the process and unburden Greek authorities”, states Josef Weidenholzer.
Yazidis are victims of genocide
The MEPs put emphasis on the Yazidi camps since members of this religious minority have been facing double-discrimination throughout history and as such have been victims of genocides, as concluded by the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria and expressed by resolutions of the European Parliament, National Parliaments and the US Congress. The most recent genocide happened in the summer of 2014 when the terrorist group ISIS attacked the Sinjar region in Iraq.