Caritas Europa urges leaders gathering at the European Council meeting of 28-29 June to rethink the EU-Turkey agreement. The ongoing migration and asylum situation is revealing an emerging threat to European values. Today, Caritas Europa issued a new position paper on the agreement in which it expresses its belief “in the capacity of Europe to solve this situation if it stands together, bases long-term solutions on solidarity, and guarantees the respect of migrants’ fundamental rights”.
“My parents, two sisters and I fled Syria to go to Turkey in 2012 because of the conflicts. From there we applied with the UNHCR to go to Europe, but they said that they weren’t registering anymore refugees. My parents decided that we should take a boat and go to Greece. I was frightened as I had seen people drowning on TV, but they insisted. I decided to go with them to look after them”, testified S., a refugee from Syria, to Caritas Greece.
At the European Council meeting of 28-29 June, decision makers will take stock of the implementation of the EU-Turkey agreement, reached on 18 March 2016. Caritas is deeply concerned about the impact this agreement is having on migrants and refugees who are seeking refuge in Europe, pushing them to find “alternative” ways to come to Europe. Caritas Europa believes that focus on “pushing people back” within the EU-Turkey deal creates a dangerous precedent for the future, undermines Member States’ obligation to guarantee the international right to seek asylum and is an ultimate expression of the failure of European governments to agree on a common humane approach to protecting people in need. Moreover, this deal also shows that Europe is facing a watershed moment regarding its commitment to its own founding values.
Caritas Europa remains committed to the fundamental values on which the founding fathers of the EU started building this project. Therefore, Caritas Europa continues to advocate people-centered policies, as being the only effective and humane measures that are capable of addressing efficiently and sustainably the dire situation of migrants in Europe.
“European leaders need to start sticking their heads out of the box. They seem to be incapable to really seize the desperation of the hundreds of thousands of people that are fleeing from terrifying events in their home countries at the peril of their own life. No fences will ever stop them, we need to help them here and tackle the root causes of their misery in their home countries,” said Mons. Luc van Looy, President of Caritas Europa.
In the light of the ongoing crisis of values that the EU is facing, Caritas Europa urges the Heads of States and Governments meeting at the European Council of 28-29 June to show that they still commit to the spirit of the EU and:
- Guarantee the respect of the 1951 UN Refugee Convention that states that all people in need of protection should have the right to access fair and efficient asylum procedures, including the right to appeal, and must not be subject to arbitrary detention or refoulement;
- Open more safe and legal paths to come to Europe, including engaging in more resettlement;
- Stop returning people to non-EU countries without granting them the right to apply for asylum;
- Deliver humanitarian aid in a neutral environment with full freedom of movement, and no arbitrary detention.
Read our position paper: