DW: Mr. Knaus, of the European Union will begin this week with the relocation of 1600 unaccompanied Minors from Greek Warehouses in prospective EU member States – is it enough?
Gerald Knaus: Normally, it is useful to focus on the most Vulnerable, such as unaccompanied minors. However, we have currently no normal conditions. The focus should therefore be on what can help the greatest number of people in need of protection. On the Greek Islands there are tens of thousands of people in Need. Many of them are children. You all should be evacuated. Children with parents are not safer than unaccompanied minors. The question is how you can bring 35,000 people quickly from the Islands to the mainland.
Because of the corona of a crisis?
Yes. We are facing a devastating humanitarian crisis on the Islands. A crisis with the announcement now stop but still. The conditions there for a long time were terrible. But if an infection with the Coronavirus comes to that – in the midst of 20,000 people, the life in the camp on Lesvos close together, not hands can wash, with only six intensive-care beds on the island – there’s obviously, why we need to act.
reached As the Coronavirus recently, a Dutch U-boat, put all the crew members immediately in social Isolation. What are we waiting on Lesvos? It is not only in the interest of the refugees, but also in the interest of Greece and the European Union as a whole. In order to defeat the Virus, we need to address the weaknesses in our health systems.
And how could be the evacuation of the refugees on the Greek mainland?
The first step would be for the Greek government says its European partners, you want to do this. If the Greek government thinks it can ride out the risk of infection, then nobody can help.
It is clear that there will be in the next few months, no return of refugees to the Greek Islands to Turkey. The borders are closed. Those who are now on the Islands, will stay in Greece. And many people in Greece understand that there is a time bomb ticking: That is, as one would hold a daily mass event. I hope, therefore, that the Greek Prime Minister is attacking soon up the phone and says: “We need to solve. We are in need of support.” Then other people in the EU must of course be willing to support. And that requires a debate about what to do now.
you can take part in this debate and have put forward a proposal…
It is actually clear what needs to be done and what can be done. 35.000 refugees as soon as possible from the Islands to the Greek mainland. It could quickly be 15,000 additional beds in makeshift tent camps provided. The International organization for Migration (IOM) is capable of this within a few weeks. A further 10,000 people can be accommodated in currently vacant Greek Hotels. And finally, 10,000 people could be accommodated easily in facilities that are already paid for by the EU – places, which are now recognised refugees live. If countries such as Germany would absorb these refugees who are recognised quickly, you could immediately create space for families of the Islands. This would also be a strong sign to the Greeks that you are not alone.
But in the European countries affected by the Corona-crisis, it could be for a politician is very difficult to convince the Public of the reception of refugees.
It is clear that only a few countries will participate. In Germany, the people know that there are today in the refugee accommodation available beds. And if you laid a recognised asylum-seekers, then their identity is known. We know that you deserve protection. We are talking about a relatively small number. We assume, Germany, offers, 5000, recognised asylum-seekers from the Greek mainland to be incorporated. Germany has led in the past week, 170,000 Germans from abroad, in compliance with the Standards for the health protection. Such action, the kind of European solidarity, to the people still remember in decades would be.
In this crisis, we can show that we would be the values of the people and of the refugee Convention to defend. Solidarity with the European partners also in difficult times.
The interview was conducted by Birgitta Schülke-Gill
Gerald Knaus is co-founder and Chairman of the Think tank “European Stability Initiative”. He was the architect of the March 2016 signed the refugee Convention, the European Union and Turkey.
author: Birgitta Schülke-Gill
*The post “Corona-crisis: Greek refugee camp, “a time bomb”” is published by Deutsche Welle. Contact with the executives here.