Oxfam on 24 March 2016 reported* that it has suspended all of its operations in the Moria camp, on the Greek island of Lesvos, in response to the deteriorating treatment of migrants due to the recent deal struck between the EU and Turkey.
In response, the Greek authorities are transforming reception facilities into detention centers, where people will be held pending their mass return to Turkey, following the deal last week.
People’s freedom of movement in Moria has been severely restricted and the camp has been placed under the authority of the Interior Ministry.
Oxfam is committed to providing humanitarian assistance to those in need, but it is against Oxfam principles to work in closed centers, where the respect of fundamental rights cannot be guaranteed.
Humanitarian aid should be delivered in a neutral environment, where refugees have freedom of movement.
Giovanni Riccardi Candiani, Country Representative for Oxfam in Greece said: “It is incomprehensible how Europe has basically suspended the rights of these people who are looking for protection in Greece. The detention of people, who committed no crime and who have risked their lives in search of security and a better future, is an offense to the same values that Europe has so passionately defended in the past.”
Oxfam started its operations in Greece in September 2015, as the humanitarian situation of people on the move arriving from Turkey quickly worsened. Oxfam has been providing food and water, plus daily essentials to refugees and migrants in its programs.
In Moria camp in particular the hygiene and sanitary conditions are very poor, and Oxfam commissioned the construction of a block of toilets. Despite the general suspension of Oxfam operations in the camp, this urgent work will be completed and Oxfam will continue to monitor the welfare of those in Moria.
“Our withdrawal from Moria is a tragic testament of how the migration crisis is gradually developing into a moral crisis in Europe. If European leaders are no longer able or willing to uphold the fundamental rights of people, and moral human values, who will?” added Riccardi Candiani.
Oxfam will continue to monitor developments and will remain in active dialogue with the authorities in Greece, and in the EU, raising our concerns on behalf of migrants and refugees who are seeking sanctuary and dignity.
Oxfam will continue its humanitarian assistance to those in Kara Tepe camp, which is managed by the municipality of Lesvos, where refugees and migrants do have freedom of movement.
Oxfam is an international confederation of 17 organizations working together with partners and local communities in more than 90 countries.
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Around the globe, Oxfam works to find practical, innovative ways for people to lift themselves out of poverty and thrive. Oxfam works with partner organizations and alongside vulnerable women and men to end the injustices that cause poverty.