NGO coalition calls for European leaders to uphold human rights law and protect vulnerable migrants
Aid agency Oxfam Ireland has joined with 25 other organisations to condemn the recent discriminatory and dangerous measures which have been adopted by European countries in an effort to deter vulnerable people from accessing its borders.
Oxfam staff on the ground in Greece and the West Balkans reported people arriving exhausted, thirsty, hungry and often in need of urgent medical attention. For many of those now stranded by border restrictions, often sleeping outdoors without access to basic services, returning home is not an option and people may turn to smugglers and traffickers to facilitate their onward journey – there is particular concern for women and unaccompanied children now travelling through Europe.
There are now almost 60 million displaced people. Last year Europe shut its borders to all but those from ‘war-torn’ countries of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, and more recently several countries closed their borders to Afghans. Restrictive measures run counter to international and European refugee and human rights law and have a serious impact on the safety, well-being and basic rights of people on the move in Europe.
Oxfam Ireland Chief Executive Jim Clarken said: "The rights of the thousands of men, women and children arriving in Europe must be priority for politicians. Whatever government emerges in Ireland must also act urgently to deal with this crisis.
"Not only are these draconian and restrictive measures an infringement on international and European laws, they are also causing chaos and confusion on the ground, greatly increasing human suffering as people are left stranded in inadequate and inhumane conditions.
"European governments, including Ireland, must put an end to these discriminatory and dangerous admission policies, make immediate provisions to meet the needs of those forced to flee their homes and create safe and legal routes into Europe for those seeking asylum to avoid loss of life and decrease the demand for smuggling and trafficking networks."
Speaking about the European states’ responsibility to protect the vulnerable and respect the rights and human dignity of all people, the 26 organisations warned that the latest measures reveal a dangerous trajectory towards undermining the foundations of European and international refugee and human rights law, urging EU leaders to correct course and enact proper procedures before it is too late.
The full joint agency statement to EU Leaders can be read here.