Europe must act now for the immediate decongestion of the Aegean Islands
03 March 2020

To Charles Michel, president of the European Council, Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, and Heads of Member States,


The Aegean Islands have descended into crisis. 5 years of neglectful EU policy has finally culminated in days of protest (1, 2), NGOs threatened with violence, and mass strikes across the islands. Whilst over 42,000 asylum seekers reside on these islands, there is capacity for just 6,178 (1). Now, communities are braced for a surge in arrivals as Turkey has opened its borders, reneging on the EU-Turkey agreement.

This ongoing political stalemate between the EU, Greece and Turkey must be resolved. This game, played by the powerful, is putting innocent human lives at risk. It must stop now. Added to this already volatile mix is rising panic over the coronavirus. With healthcare severely lacking in the hotspot camps, NGOs fear that an outbreak would have disastrous consequences. 

Greece has been left alone to deal with this crisis - and the island communities more than anyone. Today, Europe must act to correct 5 years of negligent policy-making. It must own up to its chronic shunning of this international burden and recognise that good policy can fix this man-made catastrophe. As the humanitarian situation worsens beyond anyone’s reckoning, it is your responsibility, as EU leaders, to ensure decisive and coordinated action to protect human life. 

We, the undersigned, call for:

  1. Immediate action from all Member States to decongest the Aegean Islands of Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros through fair relocation of asylum seekers across European countries for the sake of universal human rights and in accordance with obligations set out under Art 78(3) of the TFEU and the 2001 Directive on Temporary Protection.
  2. The immediate provision by EU states of support to, and oversight of, the Greek government’s Reception and Identification Centres, to ensure access to a safe and legal asylum process in accordance with humanitarian law, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, and the European Convention on Human Rights. 
  3. The creation of a shared European register of legal, medical and protection staff to support the Greek government through rotational placements in the Aegean in processing asylum applications in a humane, dignified and legal way.

We await the response of the Presidents of the European Council and Commission as well as Heads of Member States to this Open Letter. We remain united in the belief that asylum seekers and refugees have the right to legal processes, that political irresponsibility can be made good through effective and humane policy and governance. Europe must act!

Please join us in demanding that Europe Must Act and sign the Open Letter.

  1. Action for Education
  2. Advocates Abroad
  3. Aid Hoc
  4. Aide et Espoir aux Réfugiés-Help & Hope
  5. amel, be humran help others
  6. Another Europe Is Possible
  7. Are You Syrious
  8. AsyLex
  9. Ballona Matata
  10. Basel hilft mit
  11. Be Aware and Share
  12. Becky’s Bathhouse
  13. BIASAN (Bradford)
  14. Boxwise
  15. Bras not Bombs
  16. Bridge2
  17. Calais Action
  18. Cars of Hope, Wuppertal
  19. Catch a Smile Luxembourg
  20. Choosehumanity Switzerland
  21. Chorleywood4Refugees
  22. Collective Aid
  23. DAHUMAS - Dachverband freiwillige humanitäre Hilfe Schweiz
  24. Do Your Part
  25. Donate4Refugees
  26. Engage
  27. Everyday, just a smile
  28. Glocal Roots
  29. GRACEaid
  30. Hamburger Hilfskonvoi
  31. Hello My Friend
  32. Help4Refugee Children
  33. Help Refugees / Choose Love
  34. Herts for Refugees
  35. Hope and Aid Direct
  36. HuBB- Humans Before Borders
  37. Human-aid-collective e. V.
  38. Humansnation
  39. Independent volunteers from Bosnia and Herzegovina
  40. Indigo Volunteers
  41. Intereuropean Human Aid Association
  42. Jesuit Refugee Service - Greece
  43. Khora Community Centre, Athens
  44. Kids & Welcome
  45. Kune Aid
  46. Latitude Adjustment Podcast
  47. LE Solidarity
  48. Love Without Borders-For Refugees in Need
  49. Mare-Liberum e.V.
  50. MARDI Medical Aid for Refugees and DIsplaced People
  51. Marlow Refugee Action
  52. ?a??/Together/???? Cyprus
  53. mini decki
  54. Mobile Flüchtlingshilfe e.V.
  55. Northern Lights Aid
  56. Offene Arme e.V.
  57. One Happy Family
  58. Open Cultural Center
  59. People in Motion
  60. People Not Borders
  61. People4People e. V.
  62. PomegranateAid
  63. Precious Plastic Samos
  64. Project Armonia
  65. RefuComm
  66. Refugee 4 Refugees
  67. Refugee Aid Network
  68. Refugee Biriyani & Bananas
  69. Refugee Compassion
  70. Refugees Foundation e.V
  71. Refugees Welcome in Olten
  72. Refugee Welcome Karoviertel
  73. Refugee Women’s Centre
  74. ResCO international e.V.
  75. Rowing Together
  76. SAO Association
  77. Sea-Watch e.V.
  78. ShowerPower Foundation
  79. Solidarität auf See
  80. Stay Human Onlus
  81. Stichting Bootvluchteling - Boat Refugee Foundation
  82. Syria Solidarity Campaign
  83. The Lava Project
  84. The Voice of Thousands
  85. Three Peas
  86. Together100
  87. Umino - Unterstützung für Menschen in Not
  88. Frankenkonvoi e.V.
  89. Verein Esperanza
  90. Verein FAIR
  91. Verein Soliba
  92. Visas for Asylum
  93. We Are Here
  94. Wir packen’s an
  95. Yoga and Sport For Refugees

Sign the petition to ask the European Union to act for the immediate decongestion of the Aegean Islands

Press Contact Information
Sara Garcia
+32 2 554 02 21