A fire broke out at a refugee centre on the Greek island of Lesbos which has caused significant damage to a warehouse, but has fortunately not resulted in any human casualty. This was the second fire at an installation built for migrants; the first occurred at a reception centre but the perpetrators were never caught.

This fire comes in the midst of the tension between Turkey and the EU over who should be responsible for the refugees that are piling up on Turkish territory and the Greek border. The agreement between Turkey and the EU was that Turkey would halt the flow of Europe-bound migrants in exchange for 5 billion euros of aid for Syrian refugees, fast-track EU membership and visa-free travel to Europe. 

Turkey is now claiming that the EU has failed to disburse the money and is demanding that Europe takes on a greater responsibility of caring for the refugees. For this reason, Turkey has replied that it would no longer be Europe’s gatekeeper for holding back the wave of refugees wanting to enter Europe.

Read the full article on Time: Fire Breaks Out at Greek Refugee Center Amid European Migrant Tensions


The foreign ministers of the EU countries have criticised Turkey’s position since they assert that Turkey is trying to capitalise on the desperate migrant situation in order to obtain some political purposes. The accusation is that Turkey wants to secure EU membership and benefits earlier and is thus placing all these political pressure on the European states.

At the same time, although Turkey is not part of the EU, it has been functioning as a gatekeeper to prevent Syrian refugees from entering into Europe. It is thus reasonable to expect the European nations to contribute to the funds necessary to host the refugees. While the world is concerned about containing the coronavirus outbreak, other issues remain pertinent and must be addressed.

Questions for further personal evaluation: 

  1. Who should bear the responsibility of hosting refugees? Should it just be the neighbouring nation to the country in conflict/crisis? 
  2. Is there anything wrong with countries striking a political bargain with other countries? Why or why not? Does it depend on what is being bargained?

Useful vocabulary: 

  1. ‘gatekeeper’: a person or thing that controls access to something
  2. ‘pertinent’: relevant or applicable to a particular matter; apposite