"We are morally and legally obliged to welcome and integrate refugees into our societies, and especially those with disabilities, with solidarity and in a humane way", declared the EESC president at the opening of the public hearing on The situation of refugees and migrants with disabilities, alongside the president of the EESC Permanent Study Group on Disability Rights, Irena Petraitienė, and representatives from the Maltese government and the European Commission.
Organised by the EESC and its Permanent Study group on Disability rights, the hearing took place on Tuesday, 14 February. Its objective was to draw attention to the situation of refugees and migrants with disabilities, by raising awareness among organisations working with them of their rights and needs. During the first part of the hearing, a report describing the situation in Greece was presented together with recommendations drawn up following the EESC visit to Lesbos and Athens in October 2016. In the second part a discussion was held about what the EU and civil society could do to tackle the crisis.
In his speech Georges Dassis mentioned that a clear distinction should be made between refugees from war zones and migrants. Regarding the situation of refugees everything possible should be done in order to ensure that these people would no longer be in danger. As for migrants, the EESC president stated that investments needed to be made in their countries of origin.