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24th Oct 2021

NGO rejects EU funds in protest over migrant policies

  • A MSF operation in Yemen with Somali and Ethiopian refugees. (Photo: MSF)

The humanitarian NGO Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) will no longer accept funds from the EU and EU member states in protest against "shameful" migrant policies.

“For months MSF has spoken out about a shameful European response focused on deterrence rather than providing people with the assistance and protection they need,” MSF's international secretary general, Jerome Oberreit said in a statement on Friday (17 June).

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He said that the March agreement between the EU and Turkey to reduce the flow of migrants had "placed the very concept of 'refugee' and the protection it offers in danger".

MSF also protests against a recent proposal by the European Commission to make development aid to African and Middle-East countries conditional to their effort to reduce migration to Europe.

“Is Europe’s only offer to refugees that they stay in countries they are desperate to flee?," asks Oberreit.

"Once again, Europe’s main focus is not on how well people will be protected, but on how efficiently they are kept away,” he added.

He said that "deterrence policies sold to the public as humanitarian solutions have only exacerbated the suffering of people in need".

He called on European governments "to shift priorities - rather than maximising the number of people they can push back, they must maximise the number they welcome and protect".

In 2015, MSF received €19 million from the EU and €37 million from member states. This year, the NGO says, it is involved in partnerships the EU's humanitarian agency (ECHO) and nine European member states - Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

The European Commission chief spokesman Margaritis Schinas told reporters the MSF decision would have no impact in places like Turkey

"No life saving humanitarian aid for refugees in Turkey will be affected," he said.

He noted EU commission funding for MSF represented one percent of the overall EU humanitarian budget of some €1.5 billion.

The EU still funds MSF humanitarian projects elsewhere around the world. Those projects will continue.

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