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Doctors Without Borders: Enough is enough

MSF will no longer receive money from EU countries or Norwegian authorities.


By Sebastian Stein and Kyrre Lind

MSF will no longer accept money from EU countries or Norwegian authorities. We have made this decision in protest of Europe's disastrous asylum and migration policy. The decision has immediate effect and applies to all our projects worldwide.
For many months, we have condemned the disgraceful deterrence policy that European authorities are taking against people on the run, when they should instead have helped and provided protection to those in need.
Three months ago, the EU signed an agreement with Turkey on the return of refugees. This agreement reduces people to numbers and jeopardizes the whole idea of ​​being a refugee and getting the protection that such status entails.
European states believe the deal is a success. It is not for people on the run.

Fear, compulsion and inhumanity
In Greek islands, more than 8000 people, including hundreds of single minors, are stranded in unworthy conditions as a direct consequence of the agreement. They all fear a forced return to Turkey, but do not receive legal help to fight against a collective expulsion. Most of these families have fled conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Europe is closing its eyes on them.
The deterrence policy has been sold to European voters as a humanitarian solution, but in reality it is the opposite. This policy has only aggravated the suffering of people on the run, and nothing about it is human.
MSF refuses to accept that this will be the new norm for how the world should deal with people who are on the run.

More deals
Last week, the European Commission announced a new proposal based on the same logic as the EU / Turkey Agreement, this time with 16 countries in Africa and the Middle East. These agreements will use trade and aid as a barrier to prevent migration to Europe.
Among the proposed countries are Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan and Afghanistan. All of these are at the top of the list of countries that people are fleeing from. Is Europe's only answer to people on the run to stay in precisely those countries they are desperately trying to get away from?
It is obvious that EU leaders care less about protecting people on the run than about how these people should be prevented from reaching Europe.

Dramatic ring effects
But it does not stop there: the agreement also sets a dangerous precedent for other countries. It sends a signal that giving protection to people on the run is not a duty, but a choice to buy away from.
In May, the Kenyan authorities used the EU / Turkey agreement to justify their decision to close the world's largest refugee camp in Dadaab and send all refugees back to Somalia.
Likewise, the agreement does nothing to encourage Syria's neighbors to open their borders to those trying to escape the brutal war.
Europe is now trying to outsource its own migration control. This leads to a domino effect, with closed borders all the way to Syria. People on the run have nowhere to go. Right now, 100.000 people are trapped in Azaz in Syria between the front lines and the Turkish border. Is this what the European authorities want to be the world's new normal?

Put people first
According to the agreement between the EU and Turkey, the EU will provide one billion euros in so-called "humanitarian" aid to Turkey. But the EU is giving this money as a political reward for Turkey closing its borders, not for addressing the significant needs of the country's three million refugees.
Humanitarian aid should be provided solely to help people based on their needs, not to achieve political goals. The EU / Turkey agreement calls for a political instrumentalisation of humanitarian aid that is completely unacceptable.
We at MSF cannot accept money from institutions or authorities that pursue a policy with such serious human costs.
For us, it is completely wrong to accept money from European states and Norway, at the same time as we have to treat the victims of their policies every day. We are now asking European authorities to change their priorities: From prioritizing closing their borders, Europe must instead put people on the run first.

Sebastian Stein is field coordinator and Kyrre Lind is programsjef in MSF.

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