Rights group urges EU to take new approach to refugee crisis

Rights group urges EU to take new approach to refugee crisis

Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] released a report [text, PDF] Tuesday detailing problems with how the EU is approaching the refugee crisis and recommending changes to ensure international law is followed and human rights are appropriately valued. AI is calling [press release] “for managed, safe, legal routes into Europe and fair, efficient, rigorous screening processes that would meet the needs of refugees seeking protection in Europe and address the need for identifying possible security threats.” According to the report, “[t]he world is experiencing the worst refugee crisis since World War II. Nearly 60 million people are forcefully displaced around the world due to conflict, violence and persecution.” AI said:

Rather than being prepared to receive a small fraction of world’s refugees in a dignified manner, however, this report shows how the leaders of the [EU] have sought to prevent their entry into the richest political bloc in the world, by erecting fences at land borders, deploying ever-increasing numbers of border guards, spending on surveillance technology and seeking to enlist neighbouring countries already hosting large numbers of refugees as gatekeepers.

This report, along with a similar report [text, PDF] from Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website], comes just days after attacks in Paris [NYT report]. AI stated, “[i]n the wake of this tragedy, the failure to extend solidarity to people seeking shelter in Europe, often after fleeing the very same kind of violence, would be a cowardly abdication of responsibility and a tragic victory for terror over humanity.”

The rights of migrant populations has emerged as one of the most significant humanitarian issue around the world, and especially in Europe, as millions seek asylum from conflict nations. Late last month HRW called on [JURIST report] the EU and Western Balkans states to focus on remedying what it characterized as deplorable conditions for asylum-seekers in Europe. In September the UN High Commissioner for Human RightsZeid Ra’ad Al Hussein [official profile] gave the opening statement [JURIST report] at the 30th session of the Human Rights Council in which he addressed, among other pressing human rights issues, the migrant crisis. In his statement, he commended the efforts of ordinary citizens in Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Sweden and the UK who have opened their homes to refugees and have galvanized politically to help with the crisis. Also in September Germany announced that it was invoking temporary border controls [JURIST report] at the nation’s southern border with Austria, after thousands of immigrants entered the country. Although this crisis has been gaining increased media coverage, JURIST contributor Tendayi Achiume [official profile] recently wrote [JURIST op-ed], “[t]his refugee crisis has been a slow motion crisis—steadily destroying the lives of many since the conflict began in 2011.”