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Leave No One Behind - Open letter to MEPs on World Refugee Day

We, the undersigned organisations are deeply concerned about the current situation at the European borders, especially in Greece and regarding camps like the one in Moria. People are stranded in overcrowded camps and their rights are being violated. The lack of sanitary facilities and personal space for the individual refugees was already alarming before a global pandemic broke out, now it makes no sense to talk about measures for social distancing all over Europe while ignoring the thousands of refugees who are even lacking water to wash their hands. Asylum is a human right and cannot be put on hold for political purposes. A key value of the European Union is solidarity, so we should stand in solidarity to the refugees seeking protection at the borders of this continent.

 

We call upon the above organisations to:

  • Enable a safe passage to Europe for all asylum seekers to end the mass deaths happening at the Mediterranean Sea because of inadequate ships or boats and other threats while passing the ocean and to protect the refugees from exploitation while trying to pass.
    • Call on the European Commission to take actions if Member States don’t allow NGOs or other ships to land on their coasts. Sea rescue is not a crime and therefore the rescued refugees must not be prevented from landing.
  • Reflect on the impact of the pandemic on refugees and migrants, worsening their situation. It has brought to light the vulnerable and dependent situation of refugees in camps and the importance of external help and solidarity. Enhance solidarity within the EU between its member states and help them to help the refugees.
  • Seek a stronger cooperation of the EU with third countries. This could be done while promoting dialogue and looking for solutions together. Stop denying responsibilities and transferring them to third party countries.
  • The upcoming EU Pact on Migration and Asylum, that will be Published in the second quarter of 2020, offers an opportunity to improve migration policies and deliver a more humane approach. Take the opportunity to pass a policy of solidarity, justice and humanity.
  • Implement a collective procedure for asylum seekers for all EU Member States which defines the steps, the time schedule and the requirements necessary for seeking asylum. In doing that a proper check system to verify that Member States are not putting asylum seekers on hold for an unreasonable period of time should be implemented as well. The procedure of putting asylum seekers on hold leads to a higher clandestine rate.
  • End collective expulsions and ensure that the non-refoulement principle is not violated. States are obliged to review and verify each single case. Strengthen the accountability for states that do not comply with EU migration policies and violate migrants rights. Put an end to policies like the Greek emergency decree suspending the right to asylum.
  • Ensure adequate living standards for the asylum seekers and do not house them in provisional camps in unfriendly weather conditions without proper health and sanitary facilities.
  • Improve the quality of life and prospects of asylum seekers by easing assimilation through offering relevant language courses, allowing the asylum seekers to work while gaining refugee status and providing community services in refugee camps such as sports clubs, painting classes and music lessons so asylum seekers can fully express their personality and live to their fullest potential.
  • The European Commission should take serious action on member states who fail to adequately look after, support and accommodate asylum seekers, as determined by the commission and/or NGO’s.
  • Implement a common system of asylum processing, which takes into account the asylum seeker’s personal preferences and family connections when deciding where they are to be located.
  • Create a strategy which deals with the effect of the climate crisis on migration trends, this should influence future migration policy and there should be a recognition of the validity of climate refugees

 

Conclusion:

Our Europe is not one of equals, we may believe that in Europe core values of human rights, solidarity and equality inform and underpin all of our decisions but when we look at our record when it comes to asylum seekers and the refugee crisis it’s clear to see that this is false, these are only the meaningless words we like to believe in rather than we like to act on.

Today, 5 years after the refugee crisis we still see poverty, desolation and depression in our asylum camps. The European Union has failed to act, our role as a Union does not only extend to the humans living within our borders, we have a moral obligation, as humans to act in the common human interest and to change our policy to actually be based on human rights, solidarity and equality.

The first action to change our course of action is to realise exactly what we are doing wrong, there are plenty of articles, reports and ideas on the problem with the current system of asylum processing. There are many ideas above on how to move ahead straight away. By implementing these actions we move towards a better future.

A better future is not only possible, it’s the right thing to do. By choosing the right path we establish Europe as a leader on the Global Stage, while other powers fumble and are indecisive on how to look after refugees we can get it right!

 

Signatories:

Federation of Young European Greens (FYEG)

European Free Alliance Youth (EFAy)

Young European Socialists (YES)

Der Jugendrat

Οικολογική Συμμαχία (Oikologiki Symmaxia-Ecological Alliance)

Salvamento Marítimo Humanitario

Youth Express Network