24th March 2020
Green Party MEPs Ciarán Cuffe and Grace O’Sullivan today called for urgent intervention in an increasing deterioration of already horrific conditions in refugee camps on the Greek islands.
Speaking today, Ciarán Cuffe MEP for Dublin said: “As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to spread across the globe, governments across the EU member states are working tirelessly to protect their citizens from the virus. But we must not forget the most vulnerable at this time.
“I am increasingly alarmed at reports of the deteriorating situation for refugees on the Greek islands where there are now estimated to be more than 42,000 asylum seekers living in camps that were set up to accommodate no more than 6,000 people. This overcrowding, coupled with insufficient sanitary facilities make it impossible to take adequate preventive measures like social distancing or self-isolation. The NGOs who had been providing critical support for people arriving on the islands have had to evacuate due to health concerns.
“Grace and I echo the call of our Greens/EFA colleagues in the European Parliament in calling for the crisis team of the European Commission to make an emergency plan to protect vulnerable asylum seekers against Covid-19. Finland has agreed to take an additional 150 refugees from the Greek Islands, and I believe that Ireland should follow suit immediately.”
Grace O’Sullivan, MEP for Ireland South, said: “While vital work continues to ensure that everyone in Ireland is protected from the Covid-19 virus, it is also crucial that we take care of the most vulnerable people in our society at this difficult time. So many of the refugees in camps on the Greek Islands are young children, often unaccompanied. We simply cannot abandon them to this terrible fate. It is up to all EU member states, Ireland included, to play their part in offering a sanctuary to these people at such a terrible time.
“I also want to reiterate the call of our colleague Roderic O’Gorman TD, who today called on the Department of Justice to take immediate action to protect those living in Ireland’s Direct Provision system.”