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MSF rejects EU funds over 'shameful' migrant policy

Médecins sans frontières
Médecins sans frontières Pierre Andrieu/AFP

The NGO Doctors Without Borders said on Friday that it would no longer take funds from the European Union (EU) in protest at what it described as the "shameful" policies on the migration crisis including a deal with Turkey.

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The NGO Médecins sans frontières (MSF) received 56 million euros from European Union institutions and the 28 member states last year.

"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 and their suffering back from European shores," the group said in a statement.

€56m euros from EU

"It's a principal position that we want to be working in partnerships with people who actually believe and uphold the fundamental values of assisting those most in need, and not accepting collateral damage for broader policies", Jérôme Oberreit, Secretary General of MSF, told RFI.

"What we're trying to do here is voice an extreme concern, ensure that we remain independent from these kinds of policies, and really put pressure and hopefully have some impact in terms of seeing [...] a change in policy", he added.

Turkey accession talks

The group singled out for criticism the EU's deal with Turkey in March to stem the biggest flow of migrants into the continent since World War II.

Under the Turkey deal, Ankara agreed to take back all migrants and refugees landing in the Greek islands, and to crack down on people smuggling over the Aegean Sea.

In exchange, the EU said it would resettle one Syrian refugee from camps in Turkey for every Syrian that Ankara takes back from Greece.

Turkey was meanwhile offered visa-free access, increased aid and speeded up EU accession talks if it met certain conditions, including changes to Ankara's anti-terrorism laws.

MSF said 8,000 people including hundreds of unaccompanied minors had been left stranded in the Greek islands by the deal.

MSF said it received 19 million euros from EU institutions and 37 million euros from member states in 2015, amounting to eight percent of its funding.

"We are looking for other funding channels," MSF migration expert Aurélie Ponthieu told a press conference. "We are not cutting down programmes."

The charity said its medics had treated 200,000 men, women and children in the Mediterranean and in Europe in the last 18 months. It also received 6.8 million euros from Norway, which is not part of the EU.

Europe has struggled to deal with a wave of more than one million refugees and migrants fleeing war and poverty in Syria, the wider Middle East and Africa since the start of 2015.

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