Don’t push back on Greece’s migrants: Red Cross head

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GENEVA

The head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) made a new appeal Thursday to Greece and the European Union not to push back on the movement of irregular migrants.

“My call to Greece, to the European Union to all the countries in the world is that the principle of no refoulement is a must, and it should be something that every country respects,” Francesco Rocca said, citing international law.

He spoke at a virtual news conference organized by the Geneva United Nations press association known as ACANU after UN officials who visited Greece last week called for a drastic improvement in refugees’ living conditions in camps.

Rocca said it is a European crisis, which needs concrete acts of solidarity by EU member states.

“Simply containing people is not the solution. Thousands of people are living in unacceptable conditions on the Greek island,” he said, saying they should be moved to the mainland.

“I think that especially in the Mediterranean region that on too many occasions in the Mediterranean region, refugees and migrants are part of a bigger political game, which is unacceptable morally and in a humanitarian sense,” he said.

Regarding the coronavirus, he said. “it has been an absolute ‘disaster’ for vulnerable migrants, people seeking asylum and refugees in the world.”

That is because irregular immigrants are negatively affected by the disproportionate closure of borders. “They face a high risk of detention and deportation. They are increasingly scapegoats for the epidemic,” he said.

Rocca said migrants face physical violence, attacks, and sexual violence in some European countries during the pandemic – unacceptable condition, especially when they face unfounded accusations of spreading COVID-19.

Rocca underlined that the media has a responsibility to prevent “stigmatization” and “discrimination” against migrants.

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