Europe must do more to tackle the migrant crisis-Peter Sutherland
UN special representative says razor wires an attempt to keep people in Greece and Turkey
Migrants warm-up by a fire at a makeshift camp along the Greek-Macedonian border near the village of Idomeni. More than 5,000 people were trapped at the Idomeni camp after four Balkan countries announced a daily cap on migrant arrivals. Slovenia and Croatia, both EU members, and Serbia and Macedonia said they would restrict the number of daily arrivals to 580 per day. Photograph: Louisa Gouliamakilouisa/Getty Images
Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, Ireland’s former attorney general said that member states who undermine agreements taken by the European Council “are the ones who are ultimately causing the destruction of much of what the European Union stands for”.
He praised German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s work on tackling the crisis saying, “She is showing a response to this situation that many others are not doing, particularly in central and eastern Europe. ”
Mr Sutherland criticised the conditions in France’s Calais refugee camp, known as The Jungle, part of which is currently being demolished.
He described it as “unsanitary, unhealthy” and said those who were evicted from it were not going to give up in reaching their intended destination and are “probably entitled to asylum”.
The camp should have been handled “in a much more effective way at European level, at French level,” he said. “Indeed I think there is a responsibility on all member states of the European Union, not merely in this camp but in many others to keep them in better conditions than they are in.”
Mr Sutherland also criticised Macedonia’s razor wire fence on the border of Greece as “part of a continuing attempt to push back the migrants further and further, basically to Greece and behind that to Turkey.
“The European Union has been in favour of keeping those who are in Greece and behind that in Turkey, and the idea has been to stop the flows which have become so large as to become incapable of being handled and borders and razor wires fences have been erected right up though Europe as a result, Austria being a case in point, and Hungary being another.”
Asked how many migrants Europe could cope with, Mr Sutherland said that if Europe was properly organised, it could take the million people that have entered the European Union annually over the past number of years.
“The reality is that the only way this can be handled is collectively,” he said. “That means agreements between the European states including Ireland to take more refugees and to share them on the basis of a logical and fair allocation and that’s what Germany is looking for. She is looking for an agreement from the member states of the European Union.”
He said that the 4,000 migrants Ireland has agreed to take was “not bad relative to some others” but said that along with accommodating refugees, Ireland had to be “vocally in support, publicly in support of the approach that Mrs Merkel is taking.”