Médecins Sans Frontières to stop taking EU funding in protest at refugee policy

The international aid charity says EU deterrence policies have exacerbated suffering and must be challenged

MSF: not taking EU cash
MSF: not taking EU cash

The international aid charity Médecins Sans Frontières will no longer apply for EU funding in protest at the organisation’s refugee policy.

In a statement on its website, MSF said it would stop seeking funding from the EU or any of its member governments until the EU reformed its approach to refugees.

MSF International receives about £44m a year from the EU itself and from various EU member states’ governments, including £1.8m a year for MSF UK from the Department for International Development.

Against the background of a large increase in the number of refugees entering Europe in recent years, the EU made an agreement with Turkey earlier this year to send back any refugees that crossed the Aegean Sea to Greece, and therefore into the EU.

Earlier this month, the European Commission said it would attempt to replicate this agreement in other countries in the Middle East and Africa.

Jerome Oberreit, international secretary general of MSF, said: "For months MSF has spoken out about a shameful European response focused on deterrence rather than providing people with the assistance and protection they need. The EU-Turkey deal goes one step further and has placed the very concept of ‘refugee’ and the protection it offers in danger.

"Deterrence policies sold to the public as humanitarian solutions have only exacerbated the suffering of people in need. There is nothing remotely humanitarian about these policies. They cannot become the norm and must be challenged.

"MSF will not receive funding from institutions and governments whose policies do so much harm. We are calling on European governments to shift priorities – rather than maximising the number of people they can push back, they must maximise the number they welcome and protect."

Vickie Hawkins, executive director of MSF UK, said: "Reductions in the numbers of refugees coming to Europe do not mean the problem doesn’t exist, but that we are not seeing it. Should we see a shift in European policy to one more appropriate to the scale of the problem of displacement, we will review our decision.

"We really feel it is a step we need to take to press home how serious we believe this is. We hope others will mobilise around it."

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