Click here to Sign the Immigration Letter

From:

To:
The Leaders of all European countries,
All Members of the European Parliament,
President Obama and All Members of the United States Congress

Date: April, 2015

Subject: Greece can no longer withstand the waves of desperate people arriving from war zones: your immediate action is imperative

 

The conflicts in many Middle-Eastern and African countries have devastated life in these regions and made survival uncertain. While the world has been witnessing the horrific decapitations and burning alive of human beings, large scale events are also occurring that can change the history and the fate of the affected countries and the world. Thousands of people, Christians and Muslims, are fleeing the war zones in any way they can; entire families jump into boats hoping to reach Europe, if they do not drown on the way. South Europe is the most accessible, and particularly Greece and Italy. Tragedies in the Mediterranean Sea, with desperate people drowning on the way to Europe, have been happening for a few years by now. But only recently this news reached the United States (US) and every part of the world, due to the extensive loss of human lives, while it is hardly in the news that Greece and Italy have been left essentially with no help to deal with these tragedies.

Greece has now close to a 27% unemployment rate and is struggling to convince her lenders of the obvious: that the economy will not recover by more cuts in salaries and pensions, more mass layoffs, and the sell-off of public assets. Signs of the crisis are everywhere. An increasing number of Greeks are being fed by their local churches. Illegal immigrants already fill the streets of Athens and try to survive by searching the garbage or turn to criminal activities. Hospitals struggle to provide care to all of Greece’s inhabitants. On this background, the waves of hungry and sick people from war zones arriving at Greece’s ports and islands are growing. Others arrive by crossing the borders with Turkey, whose government seems to turn a blind eye to this situation, giving the human traffickers free rein. Greece, a small country with a population of only about 10 million, already has an estimated one and a half million immigrants (legal and illegal), and the number of refugees has been increasing dramatically in recent months. Even hospitable Greeks cannot take care of the refugees. They simply cannot feed and provide shelter in the short-term, or employment in the long-term. Greece is akin to a boat where those aboard are trying to prevent it from sinking, while people who are desperate to avoid drowning appear all around the boat and try to jump in. The fate of such a boat and all of those aboard is sadly predictable.

The European Union (EU) and the US cannot remain observers to this externally-inflicted Greek drama. Steps that must be taken immediately include:

1) Efforts to resolve the conflicts in the Middle East and Africa must intensify. Success will not be achieved if lessons from past mistakes are not heeded. The words “dictator” and dictatorship” do not sound good to our “democratic ears”, but if one has to choose between favoring on one hand, a dictatorship under which Christians and all Muslims live peacefully side and side, and on the other hand complete chaos and devastation, the choice is obvious.

2) The Dublin Regulation, according to which the Member State through which an asylum seeker first enters the EU is responsible for the care of the refugee‒who must be returned to the “Member State of origin” if caught in another European country!‒must be cancelled or modified. Among other serious shortcomings, it places excessive pressure on South Europe, and particularly on Greece and Italy. Who can honestly say that such a regulation is in accordance with the spirit of fair share of the burden among the EU countries? The Dublin regulation has been criticized by the European Council of Refugees and Exiles, as well as by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. It is high time for changes to this regulation, which will be beneficial to all concerned.

3) A number of good proposals have been offered by Ms. Federica Mogherini (European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy) and Mr. Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs, and Citizenship. Such are the transfer of Syrian Refugees to Northern Europe and the creation of safe zones within the regions of conflict, where asylum cases and other refugee issues can be resolved. These proposals must move from the discussion to the implementation phase immediately. Additionally, the US should accept her fair share of these refugees.

The EU and US need to hear the pleas coming from the South European countries, as well as those of the refugees. The humanitarian catastrophe has reached large scale, with profound and irreversible consequences. Greece is paying a disproportionately high price, although Greece played no role in triggering this catastrophe. The EU and the US have the moral obligation‒which is also consistent with their long-term interests‒to take the necessary steps to put an end to the suffering of those in war zones, while at the same time prevent Greece’s collapse under the mounting pressure of refugees.

 

Sign the Immigration Letter

Signatures


Disclaimer: HEC provides this Signature Collection Application as a service. The opinions expressed in the Petitions or Open Letters are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of HEC.