EUROPEAN UNION — Relief agency Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on Tuesday denounced the EU’s “catastrophic failure” last year to help waves of asylum seekers, demanding that safe transit corridors be provided for them. The Medecins Sans Frontieres report adds to a litany of complaints about how the European Union and its 28 member states responded to the worst migrant crisis since World War II. A series of defensive and haphazard efforts only made matters worse, MSF operations director Brice de le Vingne said in a statement.
“Their focus on policies of deterrence along with their chaotic response to the humanitarian needs of those who flee, actively worsened the conditions of thousands of vulnerable men, women and children,” de le Vingne said. Like Amnesty International and other activist groups, MSF complained of a “fortress” approach to the problem. The report said deterrence and anti-immigration policies, which have formed over 15 years and hardened last year, have actually spurred the problem of migrant smuggling and “pushed people towards ever more dangerous routes.” More than 3,700 migrants died or were reported missing in the Mediterranean last year while making the dangerous crossing to Europe.
More than one million people sought refuge in the EU, many of them fleeing war-torn Syria. Known more for its emergency responses in troubled or war-torn regions, MSF said: “Never before has MSF had so many projects in Europe, never before has MSF decided to mobilize three search and rescue ships at sea to save lives.” It called on EU governments to meet their international obligations and help people in need. Last week, European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker accused EU states of failing to act on plans to resolve the migrant crisis.