Safe environment for the refugees, better life for all
Joint statement of environmental NGOs on the refugee crisis in Greece
The undersigned environmental organisations care for the commons. In our work for the protection of the environment, humanity always features at the centre. In the midst of the humanitarian crisis happening now in Greece, we cannot be passive observers of the dramatic situation of tens of thousands of uprooted women, men and children who are stranded and desperate all around our country.
Being a refugee is a condition of human suffering, which can be the result of many factors, including environmental ones. The situation with more than 50 thousand refugees now in Greece has unnecessarily developed into a crisis: while the refugees should be welcome to immediately organized shelters and open reception centers, they are left wandering in a chaotic complex of “formal” and informal camps and shelters, in streets and ports, in parks and fields. The now closed borders of Europe intensify the agony and despair of these uprooted people. With the shining exception of the unfortunately few organized reception centres, thousands of people live in conditions that are unacceptable for any EU member state that respects human rights.
In response to this unprecedented crisis, our environmental organisations have voluntarily contributed to saving people in the Aegean Sea, offering hands-on assistance to the improvement of shelter conditions in different parts of the country, or organising activities for the children. We stand in support and solidarity with the humanitarian non-governmental organisations that uphold the fundamental human rights, save lives and offer hope to thousands of people. The term “non-governmental organisation” or “civil society organisation” constitutes a title of honour for us: the systematic work offered for environmental protection, human life and fundamental rights is of paramount significance to the better world we aim for.
At this point in time, we consider it our duty to position ourselves before the refugee issue, as it is clear that the refugees will stay in Greece for a long time, hence any future planning will need to take this fact into account.
The humanism and solidarity shown by the Greek society is remarkable and makes our world more beautiful. However, now is the time for the state to proceed with the establishment of organised open shelters, which will offer decent conditions of hospitality, medical care and psychological support, education, and familiarisation with Greek society.
In the midst of this humanitarian crisis, which comes on top of the ongoing severe economic depression in our country, we call on the friends and supporters of our organisations to offer moral or material support to those caring for the refugees. At the same time, our organisations will do their best to support the refugees and the communities that provide hospitality.
We also extend a humanitarian call to the state, in order to urgently care for the setting up and management of proper and adequate structures that will welcome the refugees in our hospitable country.
In every crisis, humanitarianism, love and solidarity are the solution.
4 April 2016
Mediterranean SOS Network
Elliniki Etairia – Society for the Environment and Cultural Heritage
Hellenic Ornithological Society
Ecological Recycling Society