Greece-Turkey Border: Migrants must not be used as a political tool. The EU and Member States must act in solidarity now.

Geneva/Budapest, 3 March 2020 – Women, children and men caught up in the ongoing humanitarian crisis at the land border between Greece and Turkey, in the Greek islands and in the Aegean Sea must not be “used as a political tool”, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warned today.

Speaking of the deteriorating humanitarian situation, IFRC President Francesco Rocca said: “It is unacceptable that children and families are exposed to tear gas and violence or have to risk their lives in the Aegean Sea. We will not be silent in the face of this dire humanitarian situation, which may become even worse in the next hours and days.”

The IFRC is deeply concerned that thousands of people, including vulnerable children, may suffer the consequences of the recent surge of migrants trying to cross the border between Turkey and Greece. While Governments have the right and responsibility to set migration policies and to control their own borders, steps should be taken to ensure the implementation of such policies do not increase suffering.

“EU Member States should respond in a spirit of solidarity to the recent increase in numbers of people seeking refuge at the EU’s external borders. They must enact their responsibilities in protecting people and saving lives. EU governments cannot turn their backs on Turkey and Greece. Southern European States cannot be left alone. All States have a responsibility to protect people and save lives,” President Rocca said.

“We call on the EU and the national Governments to avoid using migrants as a political tool, to ensure that asylum seekers can apply for international protection, in line with international and EU laws.  Access to humanitarian assistance and essential services, including healthcare, ought to be guaranteed for all people, in particular children and other vulnerable groups,” he ended.