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Refugees: Caritas-FOCSIV-Missio dossier, “2 billion a year from the EU to reject migrants rather than integrating them”

(Athens) – Since 2000, including expenses for managing migration flows (13 billion euros) and money given to traffickers from migrants (16 billion euros), 2 billion euros a year have been spent to militarize and externalize borders, build up walls and rescue people at sea, causing 29 thousand dead indirectly. On the other hand, that money might have been spent to make humanitarian channels and provide for integration. Those are the most emblematic data (taken from the report by the “Themigrantsfiles” Research Centre), mentioned in the “Greece Dossier, European Paradox: crisis and refugees” presented in Athens today, by Caritas Italy, FOCSIV and Missio, promoters of the seminar going on until tomorrow. “Greece is a metaphor of those policies, the emblem of paradox and European schizophrenia. Europe is ill and has to be cured; we have to do something to change this situation”, said Chiara Bottazzi, operator of Caritas Italy in Athens and in charge of “Mediterranean Arch” communication, presenting the dossier. After the arrival of 1 million people in 2015 from the Balkan route, above all, from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, today 58 thousand refugees are stuck in Greece, owing to the agreement between the EU and Turkey of 20 March. The point of no return is the closing down of borders with FYROM-Macedonia. 42 thousand people are stuck in camps and 8,600 in the islands, but for the government, just 51 thousand refugees may be placed in the camps. Three opportunities are possible, but in fact, times are very long and uncertain: request for asylum in Greece; relocation in other countries; repatriation.

The EU-Turkey agreement holds new arrivals (including women and children – more and more) in hotspots, which are in fact centres of detention. Since 24 May, with the evacuation of the Idomeni camp, 8,000 people were distributed to other camps in the north, or went back to Athens. However, essential goods and services are missing. Even the barrier between Turkey and Greece, on the Evros River – a barbed-wire fence cost 3 million euros to Greece, and paid in spite of the economic crisis – did not halt the flow, “bouncing and flowing elsewhere, towards Greek islands”, pointed out Bottazzi. The final pages of the Dossier are dedicated to proposals for the EU, which will be debated in these days, such as “Making the humanitarian approach in protecting external borders a priority – said Paolo Beccegato, vice director of Caritas Italy -; humanitarian corridors; strengthening and implementing agreements and protocols; supporting bordering countries; stop selling weapons to parties in conflict; and relaunch of development-supporting policies, not subordinated to flow-halting principles”.

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