After the withdrawal of UN High Commission, NGOs do the same

After the withdrawal of UN High Commission, NGOs do the same

Athens, March 24, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Spiros Sideris

The blow to the EU – Turkey Agreement that constitutes the withdrawal of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, due to the disagreement with the conversion of certain hotspot to closed detention centers, as well as the decision of “Doctors Without Borders” because of their opposition to the massive refugee expulsions under the Agreement, reports the newspaper The Guardian in a publication.

It is noted that on Tuesday, UNHCR announced that it blocks part of the activities ithad developed in the Greek islands.

Following the EU – Turkey’s Agreement “these premises are now converted into detention centers. Accordingly, and in line with our policy against mandatory detention, we suspend some of our actions at all closed centers in the islands, including transportation services to and from these areas”, UNHCR said.

Meanwhile, “Doctors Without Borders” announced that they are stopping all activities related to the hotspots in Lesvos and Samos.

These activities included the transfer of refugee at the centers and the operation of medical clinics inside them.

However, the humanitarian organization will continue to provide rescue and emergency medical care activities, as well as the program providing psychological first aid to the survivors of shipwrecks in Leros and Agathonisi.

Moreover, it is clarified that in Lesvos will continue to operate the center in Mantamados, which offers first aid to newcomers, maritime rescue operations on the northern coast of the island and the mobile clinics for those outside the hotspots.

As stated to AMNA the Director General of ‘Médecins Sans Frontières’ in Greece, Marietta Provopoulou, “it was never the only organization providing medical care in Moria. However, it is understood that there will be create a gap in assistance after our departure”, and adds: “we will continue to provide assistance with our mobile units after the arrival on the island in refugee cases that are outside the center of Moria. Also, we explore the possibility to support the local hospitals to major refugee referrals to them from Moria”.

The withdrawal of “Doctors Without Borders” from hotspots is because of the disagreement of the organisation with the European Union-Turkey decisions, with which “is formalized a system which endangers asylum and is in total disregard of humanitarian assistance and protection of needs. We refuse to relate to this cynical mechanism”, Ms. Provopoulou states.

Temporary withdrawal from the Idomeni

Moreover, “Doctors Without Borders” have been temporarily withdrawn from the camp of Idomeni “for security reasons”.

However, as Mrs. Provopoulou stated, they remain in the region and monitor developments “to see how we will proceed and if we manage to return soon.”

“It’s a process that we follow in our missions around the world for the safety of our staff, which is also the priority of the organization”. Already the organization Housekeeping team has return to work, but there isn’t a medical team in operation, while there are constant contacts with refugees.

“The NGO allies in our efforts”, G. Kyritsis says

Regarding the restriction of the activities of UNHCR, “Doctors Without Borders” and other organizations in hotspots, the spokesman of the Coordinating Management Body of Refugee Crisis, Giorgos Kyritsis, notes speaking to AMNA that “there is an agreement in force but the implementation framework is blur. We are in contact with the organizations and believe that the misunderstanding will be lifted and the cooperation will continue with them”.

In regard to Idomeni, Kyritsis considers that the intensity will be reduced and there will be no concern for the organizations. “We consider NGOs our allies in the effort to protect human rights”, he concludes.

Meanwhile, Norwegian humanitarian organization announced yesterday that it suspends the activity of Chios after the Agreement between the EU and Turkey.

The decision of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), a large non-governmental aid organization, comes a day after the decision of UNHCR.

An official at the Norwegian Refugee Council said that the way Chios refugee center operated changed “dramatically overnight” since Sunday, when the EU-Turkey Agreement entered into force.

“Before it was an open reception and recording unit. Now it is a closed detention center”, said by telephone from Chios Dan Tyler, the director of the Norwegian humanitarian organization.

The organization announced that it was suspending most of its activities in the registration center on the island, including direct water and clothing distribution and maintenance of water services and public health services.