Unworthy, says the Norwegian Red Cross. Our own foreign minister, former secretary general of the Norwegian Red Cross, on the other hand, says he strongly supports the deal. From now on, all asylum seekers reaching Greece will be imprisoned.
Doctors without Borders, Oxfam, Save the Children and the Norwegian Refugee Council among others, will not participate in the deal, which means they are partly or completely withdrawing from the Greek camps in order not to legitimize it. A lot of the important humanitarian relief they provided is gone, while people fleeing war zones, right now mostly women and children, are being locked up indefinitely in overcrowded camps. The UNHCR has suspended some of its activities at all closed centres on the Greek islands, including provision of transport to and from the sites. The asylum seekers will not be able to leave the camps, and as the camps become overcrowded, there is no increase in the reception capacity. The children in the photo, from the Norwegian newspaper VG’s article on the deal, are most probably struck with anxiety, cold, in a new and unfamiliar place, already having experienced the worst. How far is Europe willing to go?
This is a deal that the Norwegian Prime Minister supports wholeheartedly, along with so many other European leaders. Norway and Europe are contributing to the most horrible betrayal we can possibly imagine. It it not hard to imagine that women and children in these camps easily will be victims of further abuse, as also stated by Human Rights Watch.
It is not hard to imagine that children will be retraumatized by being incarcerated, under unsafe conditions in overcrowded mud holes without knowing when they will be let out and what will happen to them. As Kirsty McNeill (Save the Children) expresses, it could take months.
This is a catastrophe. It is a disaster, Europe is exterminating its dignity, its integrity.
Once, it was us. It could be us, again. As the Norwegian Refugee Council states, we have forgotten our own history.
Human rights are meant to protect us all. By throwing them into the sea, we are letting them lose their importance, their relevance. It is as if we ripped the written words apart and threw them in the ocean, letting them float around the very same boats in which these same people (that are in actual need of them) are arriving. “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution”. The ink is vanishing as the paper hits the waves. “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest..» The rest of the sentence is gone already.
Women and children, frightened to death on the open sea, what are we offering them, those who manage to reach the shore alive?
Degradation. Incarceration. Traumatization. Fear. Risk of further abuse. Or, as Eva Cossé of the HRW says– the EU causes suffering.
The #EuTurkeyDeal includes only Syrians. Syrians arriving in Greece will be treated as change currency. They are to be sent back to Turkey, while the EU accepts an equivalent number of Syrians. The right for everybody to seek asylum has been thrown into the sea. A woman and child fleeing from the war in Yemen are for instance not included in the deal. Will they be deported to Yemen, the same way that Turkey, according to Amnesty, just returned a dozen of Afghans? Or will they be left in a refugee camp, without the hopes of a life?
We can use the hashtag #EuTurkeyDeal on twitter and protest the deal. We should create twitter storms. Children are suffering. Our own politicians are supporting a deal that only provides the most vulnerable with more suffering. Now that so many NGOs are withdrawing from the camps, we will also know much less about the hell these people are living.
We cannot stay asleep. It could be your child, my child, covered in aluminium foil in order to restore his or her body temperature, hungry and thirsty, frightened and fearful. How do we normally react when we see a suffering child, in desperate need of safety and care?
Right now it is as if Europe is laughing at human rights. It is sad, shocking, frightening. What is being done is actually illegal, according to the European Convention of Human Rights: Collective expulsion of aliens is prohibited. Nils Muiznieks, the Comissioner for Human Rights, Council of Europe, writes about this in the New York Times.
Europe is in denial when it comes to human rights. During Easter, the concept of denial has a special timbre to it. The disciple Peter regretted his denial. What about the European Union?