The situation for inhabitants of Camp Moria, the desperately overcrowded refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, had been dire for a long time. Then, on 2 September, Greece reported its first confirmed coronavirus case there. And on September 8 and 9, Moria burned to the ground in two consecutive fires. The fires consumed the few precious belongings of the people living there and left 13,000 people homeless.
Right now, thousands of men, women, and children—some unaccompanied—are sleeping on the streets. Imagine if you had to flee your home to find safety, and the tiny bit of sanctuary you had was then destroyed leaving you completely stranded? Moria is not safe now, nor has it ever been safe. It’s time to tell policymakers across the EU to take immediate action to help those who so desperately need assistance. The fires at Moria exposed what was hiding in plain sight, and now it’s time to find a safer, more humane alternative to overcrowded, unsanitary tent cities like Moria.
Everyone Needs a Safe Place to Call Home
At Ben & Jerry’s, we believe that everyone should have a safe place to call home. The people who watched their homes—however makeshift—burn to the ground had already been forced to flee war, violence, political unrest, climate change, and other kinds of inhumane treatment, just because of where they were born. They come from some of the most war-torn areas of the world, and they deserve better than what they’ve gotten
An Organised Call for Action
Campaigners have been speaking out about the overcrowded camps, well before the fires. And, in early September,. several refugee relief organisations set up 13,000 empty chairs outside the German parliament in Berlin—one for every refugee being held in Moria, a camp built to hold just 3,000. The protest organisers, Ben & Jerry’s partners Seebruecke, Sea-Watch, Campact, and #LeaveNoOneBehind, demanded that governments take action and evacuate the camp.
A Comprehensive Approach is Needed—Immediately
Moria was a disaster before the fire. Now it’s a crisis that policymakers can’t ignore. The Greek government has come up with a few temporary solutions, such as housing some former Moria residents on ships, or in tents nearby. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is also stepping forward to help meet some of the most urgent humanitarian needs. But, as the UNHCR notes, providing temporary shelter isn’t the same as finding a permanent solution. The EU and it’s member states have lacked a comprehensive approach to resettle those in seeking safety. The European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has been proposing a more permanent and humane plan to protect those people seeking asylum in Europe. On 23 September, the European Commission will present the Pact on Migration and Asylum, a long-delayed proposal that calls for a more permanent solution for the people arriving on EU borders desperately seeking help. The pact calls for all 27 member states of the EU to adapt the Pact and take responsibility for creating a better solution for the tens of thousands of people seeking asylum. Here at Ben & Jerry’s, we’re 100% behind a durable, humane solution that treats people like people and isn’t a re-creation of the situation at Moria.
Add Your Voice
We believe that no human is illegal, and we’re calling on our policymakers to expand safe and legal routes for people seeking safety, and to support resettlement programmes to help newcomers find a permanent place to call home. The Pact on Migration and Asylum has the potential to create monumental change, but your voice is equally important.
Lend your voice to stand with us and our partners for justice for the residents of Moria, and for people seeking safety everywhere. We don’t have all of the answers, but starting with a fair, just, and strong EU Pact on Migraiton adopted by the 27 members states of the EU is good start. We believe that by building connections, calling for justice, and making it safer and easier for the people who need it to get help, the world becomes a sweeter place for everyone.
In response to this fire the folks at Choose Love are calling on our leaders to act now. The need for action has never been more urgent, sign their petition now.