Pitella warns EU about winter humanitarian crisis at Greek island refugee camps

Gianni Pittella, chairman of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, delivers his speech at the European Parliament. FILE PHOTO. EPA/MATHIEU CUGNOTGianni Pittella, chairman of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, delivers his speech at the European Parliament. FILE PHOTO. EPA/MATHIEU CUGNOT

The Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats in the European Parliament (S&D Group) on Wednesday called on the European Union Council and the EU Commission “to work urgently with the Greek authorities to prevent a humanitarian crisis occurring this winter in refugee camps on the Greek islands.”

“Thousands of people seeking asylum on the Greek islands still do not have adequate protection for the coming cold months,” S&D Group president Gianni Pittella said. “Many are still sleeping in light tents designed for summer weather, without sleeping bags, on thin mats or even the floor. EU governments need to immediately stop sending back refugees to Greece under the Dublin mechanism, which is creating further strain on the Greek asylum system. If we do not act and refugees die from the cold, as they did last year, then their blood will be on our hands,” Pitella warned.

“Alongside these immediate measures to prevent further loss of life, all member states must fulfil their obligations to relocate refugees from Greece. A legal decision has been taken by the EU and this must be fully respected. Relocation is the only way of taking these people out of limbo and allowing them to get on with rebuilding their lives,” Pitella said.

The S&D Group is calling for a debate on the issue to be added to the Parliament?s plenary session next week in Strasbourg.

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