human development, social justice and sustainable social systems

Report: Migrants and refugees have rights!

Caritas Europa launched yesterday its report “Migrants and refugees have rights! Impact of EU policies on accessing protection”. For the first time, this report brings together all aspects of migration. It looks at access to international protection, non-refoulement, family reunification, labour migration and irregular migration from a humane perspective.

“The stench in the camps is horrendous. TV news and newspapers cannot and are not expressing the reality. It is all so heart breaking and surreal. There is dire need for medicine, baby formula, hygiene products, clothes. When people arrive in Lesbos, they get off the boats after a heroic battle feeling relief and they end up in a bigger nightmare.” ~ Antony, Caritas volunteer in Lesbos, source: Caritas Cyprus.

The report highlights the tragedy hundreds of thousands of people face when seeking protection in Europe. Women, men and children escaping war, repression and violation of human rights often turn to Europe in the hope of finding a safe haven. But many are instead confronted with bureaucratic hurdles, denial of protection and inconsistent reception standards across Europe.

Caritas Europa is particularly concerned with this lack of solidarity. The idea of pushing people out of Europe, as discussed today between the European Council and Turkey, creates a dangerous precedent for the future and threatens Europe’s accountability. As the report highlights, the plan to close borders for people in need of international protection risks putting an end to the right to claim and seek asylum guaranteed by the Geneva Convention.

In its report, Caritas Europa urges the EU to:

  • Open more safe and legal paths to Europe. More precise solutions and policy options are presented in the report;
  • Guarantee the right to asylum and grant international protection to those who need it;
  • Respect the principle of non-refoulement and refrain from using forced returns and practices that violate human rights, such as detention and the use of coercion;
  • Ensure full implementation of the right to family reunification and broaden the definition of family members to effectively respect the right to family life;
  • Develop the EU labour migration framework to ensure that safe and legal routes to Europe exist for low-skilled workers and fight against labour exploitation.

The report is available on Caritas Europa’s website.