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国际英语新闻:Moria tragedy reminds Europe of the need to change: European Commission

2020-09-12 21:13:321350
内容摘要: ATHENS, Sept. 11 (Xinhua) -- Greece's European partners are already offering assistance to the country to cope with the crisis on Lesbos is......

ATHENS, Sept. 11 (Xinhua) -- Greece's European partners are already offering assistance to the country to cope with the crisis on Lesbos island after the destruction of the Moria refugee migrant camp by a fire this week. They are preparing to agree a coherent, single migration and asylum policy to find a definitive solution to the challenge, Margaritis Schinas, European Commission Vice President, said here on Friday.

Schinas was on a two-day visit to Greece after the largest reception center in the country, which was created five years ago on the northeastern Aegean Sea island to host thousands of refugees who arrived there from the nearby Turkish coast, was destroyed in a series of blazes under still unclear circumstances.

Greek officials have said that the first big fire erupted as some of the 35 residents who had tested positive for COVID-19 resisted isolation measures.

The overcrowded camp with a capacity of some 2,800 but which accommodated almost 13,000 people was left in ruins, with the Greek authorities struggling to shelter the residents in new temporary facilities.

"We need to take a broader look at our migration policies and make sure that Moria will be there to remind us of everything that we need to change in Europe," said Schinas said in a statement. "We are a family. We are a union. It is unthinkable that only a few member states have to shoulder a disproportionate responsibility in crisis situations."

The pillars of this new agreement among member states should be solidarity and responsibility, he said.

At the forefront of the influx of refugees into Europe since 2015, Greece has received more than one million people who risked their lives on boats operated by smuggling networks. Half of them landed on Lesbos, an island with a population of about 85,000.

Most of the people who reached Greece in 2015 fleeing war zones and extreme poverty, continued their journey to other European countries until the borders along the Balkan route were closed.

Approximately 100,000 asylum seekers are currently stranded in Greece, according to the Greek government. A third of them are hosted in overflowing camps on five islands.

"Greece lifted a very heavy weight, a lot heavier than its share, especially in certain islands. Lesbos is the most extreme example. So, it is time for everyone to assume their responsibilities," Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou said on Friday after she received Schinas in Athens, according to the Greek national broadcaster ERT.

"I would like, on behalf of the European Commission, to thank the Hellenic Republic in your person for the titanic efforts made in recent days to address the tragedy," Schinas said. "The definitive solution is ...a coherent, holistic European immigration and asylum policy. And it is probably the only good thing about this tragedy is that the European public is becoming aware of the need for a solution."

After providing aid to Athens to accommodate the people who were left homeless, the Commission plans to present on Sept. 30 its proposals for a new migration and asylum pact, he said.

"I would like to thank the European Commission, but also all the member states, who have generously offered to support us in this difficult time. But it is quite clear that this European solidarity cannot be limited only to managing a crisis," Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said during a separate meeting with Schinas on Friday, ERT reported.

"We are drawing up the new European immigration and asylum policy which will help us avoid the mistakes of 2016 and we will do everything in our power to have all the governments of Europe by our side in this new beginning. Because Europe cannot fail twice on such an important issue," Schinas said.