Europe migrant crisis: Charity rejects EU funds over migrant policy

A doctor carries a child as migrants disembark from the MSF vessel at Pozzallos harbour in Sicily, Italy, 25 April 2016Image copyright

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MSF’s rescue boats have have been actively patrolling international waters close to Libya where many incidents occur

The medical aid charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) says it will no longer take funds from the European Union in protest at its migration policy.

MSF singled out the EU’s deal with Turkey under which Turkey agreed to take back any migrants who crossed the sea to Greece in smugglers’ boats.

The number of migrants – many from war-torn Syria – to Europe is at its highest level since World War Two.

The charity received $63m (£44m) from the EU and its members last year.

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“MSF announces today that we will no longer take funds from the EU and its Member States in protest at their shameful deterrence policies and their intensification of efforts to push people back from European shores,” the group said in a statement.

Jerome Oberreit, MSF’s International Secretary General, told a news conference that the EU-Turkey agreement went against the fundamental principles of providing assistance to people in need.

He said the deal did nothing to address the chronic deficiencies of EU policy, but simply outsourced European obligations.

“This is really about Europe’s refugee shame, ” he said.

The group is concerned that the migrant deal may trigger a global domino effect as other countries could also turn their backs on their obligations.

“It’s clearly sending a message that caring for people forced from their homes is optional, that you can buy your way out,” Mr Oberreit said.

MSF said none of its patients would be affected by this decision, and that in the short term it would cover the shortfall from emergency reserves.

The organisation receives 90% of its overall funding from private sources, not governments.

A note on terminology: The BBC uses the term migrant to refer to all people on the move who have yet to complete the legal process of claiming asylum. This group includes people fleeing war-torn countries such as Syria, who are likely to be granted refugee status, as well as people who are seeking jobs and better lives, who governments are likely to rule are economic migrants.

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