ATHENS – British singer and actor Sting lauded Greece for taking in more than 64,000 refugees and migrants shut out of other European countries who closed their borders to them and called world leader “half men and cowards” for not helping solve the crisis.
“Thank God for Greece because you have shown the way,” said Sting, whose real name is Gordon Sumner, at an Amnesty International event in Athens, the news agency Reuters reported.
“You have shown how to treat refugees when other people are building walls. When children are being taken from their mothers and put in cages, you are acting with compassion and generosity and commonsense,” he said.
“Because our so-called leaders, a sad parade of half-men, cowards, have not got the solutions… Once again Greece has shown us how to be civilized.”
Sting, from the music group The Police, has long been a human rights activist and speaks out in favor of causes and pulled no punches in going after European Union politicians and the international community for dumping the problem on Greece during a long-running economic and austerity crisis.
Greek islands have been flooded with more than 15,000 refugees and migrants who came there from nearby Turkey which has allowed human traffickers to send them during a suspended swap deal with the EU which has seen only a relative handful returned.
They are being kept in detention centers and camps that human rights groups and volunteers said are not fit for humans but which Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras at one point said he was “proud of,” although the country is struggling to keep up with asylum applications after Europe shut its doors to them and reneged on promises to take much of the overload.
There are nearly another 50,000 on the mainland of Greece and more are continuing to come to Greek islands in the Aegean near Turkey with the EU continuing to look the other way. The European Commissioner in charge of migration, New Democracy Greek politician Dimitris Avramopoulos, has not moved to make EU countries honor pledges to take refugees and migrants to help Greece.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has already played down expectations of a breakthrough at hastily-arranged talks among EU leaders on June 24 on the crisis divided the EU and threatening her own new, fragile coalition with calls there to close its borders as well.