European Parliamentarians on Thursday called on the EU and its member states to help Greece manage its borders, warning about the risk of Covid-19 spreading in refugee camps.
The MEPs made the plea during a video conference, with the participation of the EU Civil Liberties Committee, the Greek Ministers for Migration and Asylum, Notis Mitarachi, and for Citizen Protection, Michalis Chrisochoidis, Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas, Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson, and the Croatian State Secretary for European and International Affairs, Terezija Gras, presented their views to MEPs, as did Frontex Executive Director, Fabrice Leggeri, and the Director of the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), Michael O’Flaherty.
During the online meeting on Thursday, the MEPs stressed that the current pandemic is yet more evidence that no country can deal with certain challenges alone. They praised the commitment to relocate 1,600 unaccompanied minors from the Greek islands to other EU countries, but requested clarification about when precisely this will happen and about which member states will participate. Some requested that relocation should also apply to other vulnerable asylum-seekers and to families.
Many MEPs expressed concern about a possible outbreak of Covid-19 in the overcrowded hotspots on the Greek islands, given the already dire conditions in which people are living. Some suggested transferring people to the Greek mainland or using empty hotel rooms to ensure social distancing, while others opposed any additional relocation, to avoid creating problems of public order.