Socialist Worker

Lesvos refugee crisis—regimes collude to enforce borders

by Nick Clark in Lesvos
Issue No. 2695

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A burnt out refugee centre on Lesvos, the island where thousands of refugees are forced to live (Pic: Guy Smallman)


The recent spike in attempts to enter Greece comes after the breakdown of a deal between the European Union (EU) and Turkey meant to stop refugees coming to Europe.

The deal, signed in 2016, meant that Turkish border guards would stop refugees passing into Europe.

But the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared he was “opening the doors” for refugees. He hopes to use the refugees to pressure the EU into backing him in his involvement in the Syrian war.

EU governments responded by accusing him of using refugees as pawns.

But they also use migration as a political weapon—scapegoating migrants from outside the EU and saying they are a threat.

Safety

As refugees moved to the border seeking safety, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told them on Monday, the border was “a closed door”.

“The border is not open,” he warned. “Avoid the situation where you could be in danger.” That danger comes from the Greek and EU border police.

Tens of thousands of refugees have tried to cross into Greece, mostly by land, over the past two weeks.

But they have been assaulted by riot police who have used tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons.

And the EU has promised to send hundreds more border police to Greece, and to back the Greek government in extending its razor-wire barrier by 40 kilometres.


Children suffer the most

The European Union (EU) announced on Monday that it would rehouse 1,500 children currently in Greek refugee camps.

That’s nowhere near enough. The United Nations says there are some 8,400 children in the Moria camp on Lesvos—42 percent of the camp’s population.

And according to the charity Doctors Without Borders, at least 142 of them are ill with what it described as chronic, complex and life-threatening diseases.

“We see many children suffering from medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma and heart disease, who are forced to live in tents, in abysmal, unhygienic conditions, with no access to the specialised medical care and medication they need,” said the charity’s Dr Hilde Vochten.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said their announcement on Monday would ensure refugee children “enjoy a safe future”.

That’s an insulting lie. The EU can offer every refugee a safe future—by opening its borders and letting them in.


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