Queen of Jordan Rania Al Abdullah has visited refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos - before highlighting the urgent need for a “sustainable long-term solution to this crisis”.
The monarch was visiting the island’s Kara Tepe refugee camp, home to more than 950 refugees, of which at least 600 are vulnerable cases who arrived from Moira, according to the International Rescue Committee (IRC).
Following a deal between the EU and Turkey, Moira was turned into a detention centre housing asylum seekers who are awaiting news on whether they will be returned to Turkey.
Queen Rania, an advocate for the IRC, met with two Syrian families and visited facilities installed by the IRC, including shower and toilet blocks, an information desk and a hygiene kiosk.
Speaking during the visit, she said: “This is an exceptional crisis and it requires an exceptional response. It requires a response that is collective and that is value-based, a response that is built on burden sharing not burden shifting.
"Refugees are not numbers. They are human beings like you and I, except they have seen unspeakable horror and have experienced unthinkable tragedy and hardship. They risked everything, their families, their possessions just to make it to safety.
“We need to bring humanity and compassion back into the narrative, because this crisis is about people not borders and barriers. It’s about human dignity not deals."
She said the refugees she met had gone “from suffering to suffering” and that many had told her they would “be back in their homes” if they had the choice.
Queen Rania emphasised the need to “find legal alternatives and effective pathways to safety, and also look for more sustainable long term solutions to this crisis”.
She also thanked Greece for “remarkable empathy and kindness towards refugees” despite its own economic difficulties in recent years.
IRC Country Director Panos Navrozidis, who accompanied the Queen on her trip, said: “For refugees, Her Majesty Queen Rania’s visit today reassures them that they are not alone.
"There are many people across the world who care deeply for their plight and are working to ensure a better, safer future for them and for their families.”
According to the UN Refugee Agency, 2016 has already seen 181,673 refugees and migrants arrive to Europe by sea, and every day 1,663 people arrive at Lesbos alone.
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