Lesbos, Amman- Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan called on Monday for “legal” paths into Europe for refugees; criticizing the EU’s controversial deal with Turkey, which she said endangers lives.
“The deep concern is that many of the refugees will now start to seek more dangerous routes,” Queen Rania said in reference to the EU-Turkey deal.
“It’s absolutely crucial for us to look for legal alternatives and more safe and effective pathways to Europe and areas of safety,” she said on the Greek island of Lesbos, the main crossing point for refugees.
Under the EU-Turkey deal, which went into effect on March 20, all migrants whose asylum claims are rejected will be sent back to Turkey.
More than 320 displaced have been expelled so far, most of them are Pakistanis, in expulsions which aid agencies such as “Human Rights Watch” have described as “abusive”, raising questions about the fate of the deportees in Turkey.
On the other hand, Syrian refugees constitute 10 percent of the population in Jordan, which counts a refugee camp as its fourth largest “city”.
“This is an exceptional crisis and requires an exceptional response,” Queen Rania was quoted by AFP as saying.
She added: “Greece can’t be the last stop station for these refugees.”
She also called for more international support to humanitarian agencies such as the International Rescue Committee and the UN refugee agency UNHCR, which have been influential in providing refugees and migrants in Greek camps with food, water and shelter.
“Just being here today made me realize how over-stretched and under-resourced they are,” she said.
In addition, there are around 53,000 people, many fleeing the war in Syria, who are now stuck in Greece, including some 46,000 who arrived before the deal took effect.
Queen Rania’s visit reassured the refugees that they are not alone. She reassured them that there are many people across the world who care deeply for their plight and are working to ensure a better, safer future for them and for their families.
Her majesty reviewed the International Rescue Committee’s efforts in providing legal counsel to the refugees about their rights. She also checked the water, sanitation, and hygiene services provided for them inside the camp, which is currently hosting over 950 people.
She also met with a group of Syrian women, who recounted the fear and grief they have experienced.
On March 23, Her Majesty visited IRC’s operations in the Jordanian town of Ramtha, where the organization provides health and protection services, including psychological support for Syrian women traumatized by war.
Lesbos is considered the gateway to mainland Europe, and organizations such as the International Rescue Committee play an effective role in providing humanitarian aid for refugees during their trip.
The IRC also provides healthcare, infrastructure, learning and economic support to people in 40 countries across the world, with special programs focusing on the needs of women and children.