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The EU leaders should urgently transfer migrants stuck in overcrowded reception centers on Greek islands to other Europe's facilities and should stop shifting its own moral and human responsibility on external players like Turkey, 25 non-governmental organizations said in a joint statement on Wednesday, on the eve of a European Council meeting.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The statement, signed by Amnesty International, Save the Children, the Human Rights Watch among groups, outlined that the EU-Turkey deal led to over 16,000 people being trapped on the Greek islands of Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos, while the sites there has capacity to host only 7,450 people.
"Member States should prioritise the immediate transfer of people from overcrowded sites on the islands to open facilities on the mainland that meet European law standards for reception, rather than pressuring Greek authorities to keep people on islands in substandard conditions," the statement said.
"European countries are shifting their protection responsibilities on to countries outside the EU, even at the cost of violating European and international law. They have failed to come together and collectively manage the new arrivals of people, instead putting huge pressure on just a few countries to manage the process and consequences of Europe-wide policies," the statement said.
At the December 15 European Council meeting, the EU leaders have the opportunity to ensure that people arriving in Europe will be treated humanely, responsibly and that their rights will be safeguarded, the watchdogs added.
Last week, the European Commission presented its progress report on the EU-Turkey deal, admitting it was partly flawed, and a Joint Action Plan, which called on Greece to increase returns to Turkey. The Commission also recommended the bloc's countries to gradually resume from March 2017 returns of asylum seekers who passed through their territory back to Greece, thus applying the Dublin Regulation, that states that country of first entry is responsible for an asylum-seeker.
Currently returns under the Dublin rules are temporarily put on hold after the European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2011 that due to degrading treatment of migrant the Greek asylum centers were not save to return asylum seekers there. The European Court of Justice has also ruled against transfers.
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