human development, social justice and sustainable social systems

End policies to ‘contain’ migrants at EU borders

The EU-Turkey Statement, five years on

Caritas Europa joins seven leading organisations in calling for an end to containment and deterrence at the EU’s external borders, which would mean recognising the failures of the policy  and moving forward to ensure the same mistakes  are never repeated.

Today, 18 March marks five years since the announcement of the EU-Turkey Statement, which led to the confinement of asylum seekers in the notorious “hotspots” on the Greek islands. The harmful effects of the containment policy on the Greek islands have been directly witnessed by Caritas, and repeatedly documented by civil society, UN and EU agencies. This includes severe overcrowding, substandard reception conditions and delayed asylum procedures. Meanwhile, local communities who were initially welcoming are increasingly frustrated with the deteriorating situation and lack of EU solidarity, and violence is increasing. The space for NGOs to support people on the move is increasingly restricted, as authorities take measures to criminalise assistance to people on the move, in need of protection, safety and simple human kindness.

Yet we are concerned that similar policies will be duplicated in the EU Pact on Migration and Asylum. Therefore, our joint open letter urges the European Commission, Members of the European Parliament, and representatives of EU Member States to:

  1. End restrictions on movement, and ensure that reception centres are designed and operated as open facilities
  2. Protect the fundamental rights of all people arriving in the EU and ensure that asylum seekers can enjoy their rights from the moment they express the wish to seek international protection
  3. Put in place safeguards that will ensure a fair and effective asylum process
  4. Secure independent oversight and accountability measures in all reception centres

joint statement


Download the open letter