From A World to Win News Service

Médecins Sans Frontières Takes a Stand Against Vicious EU Policy as Historic Number of Refugees Face Unwelcoming World

June 27, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper |


In one day in June, 1,000 refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea in unsafe dinghys to reach Europe were rescued at sea by Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) and Sea Watch humanitarian groups.
In one day in June, 1,000 refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea in unsafe dinghys to reach Europe were rescued at sea by Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) and Sea Watch humanitarian groups. Photo: MSF

June 20, 2016. A World to Win News Service. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has announced it will refuse future funding from the European Union (EU) and its member states “in opposition to their damaging deterrence policies and intensifying attempts to push people and their suffering away from European shores.”

The humanitarian organisation—whose name (Doctors Without Borders) was originally meant to describe the international reach of its medical work—specifically cited the EU agreement with Turkey under which the EU will pay Turkey to take refugees off its hands. MSF points out that Europe’s refusal to consider applications for refugee status from people who have reached its shores goes against European and international law, ripping up the very principle of the right of asylum established by the International Refugee Convention established in the wake of World War II. This comes at a time when there are more people forcibly displaced by war or persecution worldwide than ever before, even more than during and after that war, more than 65 million people, according to a June 21 UN report.

This situation is not mainly the result of natural catastrophes or even poverty. The majority of the refugees Europe wants to “legislate out of sight,” as MSF puts it, are from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, countries whose people are owed a blood debt by the U.S. and the European powers that did everything possible to fuel the war in the first country and invaded and occupied the second and third.

MSF also warned, “Last week the European Commission [the EU central political body] unveiled a new proposal to replicate the EU-Turkey logic across more than 16 countries in Africa and the Middle East. These deals would impose trade and development aid cuts on countries that do not stem migration to Europe or facilitate forcible returns, rewarding those that do. Among these potential partners are Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan and Afghanistan—four of the ten refugee countries.”

The same thing is taking place in the U.S., where President Barack Obama, despite the contrast between his “decency” discourse and that of openly fascistic political leaders in his country and Europe, has deported more people than any previous government. It [the U.S.] is on track to deport almost as many as were kicked out of the U.S. during the entire twentieth century—2.5 million since he came to office in 2009. (Figures extrapolated by Tim Rogers on from 2013 U.S. Yearbook on Immigration Statistics.) Many of these refugees are from Central American countries the U.S. wrecked just as surely as it wrecked Iraq, Afghanistan and now Syria.

At a Syrian refugee camp in southeastern Turkey, April 2016. AP photo
At a Syrian refugee camp in southeastern Turkey, April 2016. AP photo

Even in those countries where the Western powers have not directly intervened lately, massive populations are being displaced by the convulsive workings of the globalized imperialist system, often leaving devastation in its wake, with local political conflicts and wars very much embedded in and driven by this larger economic and political machine devouring humanity.

One direct result of the criminal EU-Turkey deal—truly a pact between gangsters—is that some 8,000 refugees are stranded in Greece, unable to go elsewhere in Europe or hope for asylum in Greece. Greek police have moved them into camps where conditions are so bad they constitute a form of punishment, meant to force families to accept voluntary deportation. Even worse, using Turkey’s agreement to take these people as an excuse, political leaders in countries such as France are openly declaring they have no moral or legal obligation to take any such refugees at all. This is an unprecedented situation in modern Europe, a dropping of the “humanitarian” mask that France and other Europeans have so long used to hide their hideous colonial past and neo-colonial present.

Turkish soldiers guard border as Syrian refugees wait on the Syrian side to cross, June 2015.
Turkish soldiers guard border as Syrian refugees wait on the Syrian side to cross, June 2015. AP photo

Since under the deal with the EU a cap has been placed on the number of refugees Turkey can be paid to take, in a reverse form of human trafficking on a scale not seen since the slave trade, Turkey has no use for more Syrians. Until now Turkey has kept its border with Syria open. The purpose was to serve as the main conduit for arms and men supplied mainly to various Islamist groups by the Gulf states, the U.S. and Turkey itself. Turkey hoped that it could use its role in the Syrian civil war to emerge as a more powerful regional Islamist power. Now Turkey is building a wall to keep people from fleeing that war.

Once again on June 19, Turkish border guards shot and killed at least eleven Syrians trying to get away from a town held by Daesh (IS) [ISIS] as the U.S.-led coalition stepped up air strikes. In one incident, seven family members, including three children, were killed, along with two other men, and five wounded. Border guards killed two other people in a separate shooting. Turkey has murdered a total of almost 60 people on its borders so far this year, and beaten many others, according to reports from the Syrian National Coalition, an opposition group that cannot be accused of anti-Turkish bias since it is based in Istanbul and supported by Turkey, as well as the U.S. and Europe.

This is a foreseeable result of EU policies, and one that Western countries have chosen to ignore. It drives home the terrible reality described by MSF: “Once again, Europe’s main focus is not how well people will be protected, but on how efficiently they are kept away.”

Although MSF receives most of its budget from private donations, this courageous stand will not endear it to the Western-backed governments that have repeatedly targeted its war zone hospitals and staff in recent months, as have anti-Western Islamist armed groups. Even UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who has rubber-stamped many Western war crimes, has warned about the increasing “detention” and “criminalization” of refugees that threatens the hypocritical humanitarian rhetoric used to pretty up today’s violent world order.

The imperialist powers are increasingly turning to extreme and even military “solutions” to an emergency created by their own system, basically a bursting into the open of the effects of a division of the world into imperialist exporters of capital and the rest of the world their capital feeds on. A “fortress Europe” or U.S. is not sustainable, and no one has proposed any other solution that is remotely as realistic as revolution in as many countries as possible as soon as possible.



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