Environ 200 personnes de deux bateaux en détresse ont été secourues dans la matinée du 9 mai 2022. Tout le monde est maintenant en sécurité à bord du Geo Barents pendant que nous continuons à rechercher d'autres bateaux en détresse. © Anna Pantelia/MSF
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Migration: European policies encourage systematic brutality towards migrants

On Monday, February 26, 2024

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Report- "Death, despair and destitution: the human costs of the EU's migration policies"
Frontière militarisée entre la Pologne et le Belarus Parc naturel de Kozie Borki. Détail du fil de concertina. © MSF/Jakub Jasiukiewicz

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has released a report today detailing the harrowing consequences of Europe's policy-made crisis at its borders and beyond. Drawn from first-hand accounts from medical staff and patients, over 20,000 medical, mental health and emergency consultations at EU borders, and more than 8,400 people rescued at sea, Death, despair and destitution: the human costs of the EU's migration policies illustrates a shocking embrace of violent tactics, sanctioned by European Union (EU) policies and EU member states, and emboldened by increasingly dehumanising political rhetoric from European Leaders.

One example is the role of the Libyan coastguard, which intercepts people at sea before taking them to detention centres in Libya. From 2016 to 2023, MSF teams worked in some of these detention centres where they collected patient testimonies of beatings, human trafficking, sexual assault and torture. The overcrowding in these centres also encourages the spread of epidemics. Between January 2022 and July 2023, MSF treated 58 cases of tuberculosis. MSF teams also had to plead for the release of a man suffering from tuberculosis who was malnourished, weighed less than 40 kg and had no access to appropriate care in detention.  

Outsourced management systems for exiled persons on the part of the EU, which encourage violence and hinder access to healthcare and the safety of migrants and refugees, have also been put in place in Niger, Serbia and Tunisia, in addition to the violence documented within European borders.  

In Poland, Greece, Bulgaria and Hungary, MSF teams have documented the practice of repeated refoulements at the EU's land borders. Some 2,000 kilometres of walls and fences designed to prevent their passage, often topped with barbed wire and monitored by cameras and drones, cause both physical and psychological injuries to people trying to cross them to find refuge in Europe. Violence committed by the authorities at the borders also causes physical injury and post-traumatic stress disorder to people, many of whom had already been victims of violence before arriving on the continent.

Un soldat polonais devant la frontière avec la Biélorussie. Janvier 2024. © MSF/Jakub Jasiukiewicz

In Palermo, Italy, between January and August 2023, of the 57 patients assisted by MSF, 61% said they had been tortured in Libya, and 58% had been tortured in detention. Many were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.  

EU Member States have also shirked their duty to rescue people in distress at sea.

The elimination of European search and rescue capabilities, accompanied by their outsourcing to non-European coastguards, has turned the Mediterranean into a place where shipwrecks and avoidable deaths have become an almost daily occurrence.

En mars 2023, des milliers de migrants expulsés d'Algérie et abandonnés dans le désert du nord du Niger sont bloqués à Assamaka, sans accès à un abri, aux soins de santé, à la protection et aux produits de première nécessité. Ils s'abritent dans la cour, sur le toit et dans d'autres parties d'un centre de santé soutenu par MSF à Assamaka. Il y a des gens qui dorment dans tous les coins de l'établissement. Certains ont installé des tentes de fortune à l'entrée ou dans la cour. D'autres campent devant la mate

The decision to enable and promote policies of violence and deprivation against refugees and migrants, rather than looking at humane political solutions should shock the collective conscience. Instead, we see EU leaders doubling down and even celebrating inhumane policies in political rallying cries. This directly contradicts the core values the EU claims to stand for.”
– Julien Buha Collette, MSF Operational Team Leader

The EU and its Member States must change course as a matter of urgency and give priority to solutions based on welcome and humanity over the purely security-based and dehumanising approach that currently prevails.

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