NGOs launch takeover of Frontex' controversial competition
[07.05.2021, 07:00 CET]
For Immediate Release
NGOs have coordinated a ‘takeover’ of Frontex’ photo competition on social media, in response to increased allegations of Frontex’ involvement in the illegal act of pushbacks.
To mark Europe Day, 9th May, Frontex will announce the winners of its photo competition. For the competition, staff at Frontex were invited to submit a photo under one of the following categories; ‘cooperation with local authorities’, ‘frontier landscapes’ and ‘helping hand at the border’ to show ‘how EU solidarity works in practice’.
NGOs and grassroots movements have collectively denounced the photo competition and have responded by collating images from their own work to reflect the reality of the situation on the ground. By responding to Frontex’ social media posts on Sunday with these counter images, they hope to increase awareness of the prevalence of pushbacks in European waters and of Frontex’ alleged involvement.
Jacob Warn, Field Coordinator from Europe Must Act notes that “we find this competition a complete joke. Right now, Frontex is under investigation by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) and is being monitored by the European Parliament’s Scrutiny Working Group on Frontex for its alleged involvement in illegal pushbacks in Greece. These pushbacks have cost the lives of refugees desperately seeking safety and have shaken our belief in EU values to the core.”
Over the past year, hundreds of illegal pushbacks have taken place on Greece’s borders. These have been documented and reported by organisations working on the ground, detailing the abuse of power by Frontex.
Heike Gumz, Campaign Coordinator from Europe Must Act notes that “Frontex should rather focus on transparency, implementing a working complaint mechanism and an independent human rights monitoring than wasting their resources and time with a photo contest that tries to pretend that the situation at the European borders is well managed. We are calling on Europe - its citizens and leaders - to stand up for fundamental rights and the rule of law.”
Europe Must Act (EMA) is a growing grassroots movement, bringing together volunteers and NGOs to campaign for the humane, dignified and legal reception of refugees in Europe. EMA was established in March 2020 by a group of volunteers on the Greek Aegean islands of Chios and Samos in response to the ever-worsening situation of the hotspot camps. For more information about EMA, please visit www.europemustact.org/about-us.
Further comments available.
Christian Schmidt, Press Coordinator, Europe Must Act
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Europe Must Act is a campaign group run by a coalition of NGOs working on the Aegean Islands. Find out more here.
Credits: Cover Image / EU Observer/Frontex