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  • Rory O'Keeffe

Greece to nominate Mouzalas as HRC, despite astonishing failures on refugees

The Greek government says it is nominating Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas as an EU Human Rights Commissioner. It says it believes this to be one of the most important roles in the EU, as it faces ‘challenges’ over whether it will continue to be a home for those struggling for freedom, or succumbs to rising xenophobia.

Mouzalas has been Migration Minister for the whole of the refugee situation here in Greece. This means he was responsible for the warehouse camps, which were overcrowded and the Greek Health investigators KEELPNO specifically stated must be closed within a month of its July 2016 report because they were a risk to refugees’ health (some warehouses are still open today). He was responsible for placing refugees in tents at Katsikas and Diavata, which flooded and blew away when the weather got bad.

He refused to meet and talk with refugees on visits to Lesvos and Chios (on five separate occasions), and insisted that the Greek government should ‘lead’ on every part of the crisis, meaning that every failure it has suffered is on him. This includes the shocking overcrowding at the island detention centres, the fact the detention centres exist at all, the fact that as MSF and HRW have both attested, the centres are ‘like concentration camps’ and are breeding grounds for mental collapse, and the fact that the government has ensured that international aid organisations no longer have contracts to work on the islands, just as winter approaches, and they are more crowded than at any point since March 2016.

It means that the fact that 100 people are currently sleeping in Chios Port, because Souda is being closed, and VIAL detention centres is over-full, is his responsibility, and it means that he is the reason why the last 19 months have been so miserable and almost unbearable for 63,000 men, women and children – no human being should be in a camp for more than a month, and Greece’s camps were deliberately placed in inappropriate places, dozens of miles from the nearest town, and/or on the edge of busy roads where people have been killed.

He is rumoured (with some evidence) to have colluded with Germany to illegally ‘slow’ the process by which parents can be reunited with their children in EU states, and of course it means that it was his refusal to prepare the camps on the Greek islands and mainland for Winter, which led to several deaths of exposure, and fume inhalation, in the EU in the 21st Century.

It seems that the rewards for failure are high indeed

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