SOUTHAMPTON, NY – Refugees International (RI) was one of the two organizations honored at the annual Blue Dream charitable gala of the Kimisis Church of the Hamptons on August 29.
The organization, which was also a beneficiary of the charity event, was represented by Michel Gabauda, its president, who spoke to TNH about the refugee crisis in Greece.
Prior to the gala, RI was invited by Blue Dream’s organizers to address what has become a desperate situation in Greece. Gabauda responded with a white paper that proposes an RI mission to assess a comprehensive response to Greece’s refugee crisis.
TNH asked Gabauda about what Europe must do about the refugee crisis and he outline three steps. “The first thing is the humanitarian response. Today people are drowning and are being received in inhuman conditions, so the first thing is for Europe to give sufficient financial support and expertise.”
Told there were reports of 20 million euro being forthcoming from the EU, he said “that’s very little. The Greek islands, Athens, they are not equipped to do that. There needs to be facilities and that means either identifying buildings to be refurbished or new construction and finding the staff to man them.”
Gabauda said the second matter is to identify who the people coming to Greece are and to determine if they are worthy of protection as refugees. He said those who are not can be returned “because they are not sent back to persecution…but Europe has a collective responsibility to assist refugees. The EU is based on two fundamental principles. One is the respect for human rights, and the other is burden sharing.”
He said the response of barbed wire and armed guards at the border “is not worthy of the EU, and it will not stop the flow…they are fleeing war, persecution and murder.”
On the question of Greece’s refugee crisis, Gabauda noted that German Chancellor Angelo Merkel has been sympathetic to Greece’s plight.
He said the third task is for the United States and EU to provide more support, including development aid, for countries like Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon, which received larger numbers of refugees who will not be returning home anytime soon.