As the European Union’s 28 heads of government are due to discuss migration and meet the Turkish Prime Minister, five ecumenical organisations have written to EU leaders calling for a better response to the refugee crisis.
The Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME), the Conference of European Churches (CEC), Eurodiaconia, EU-CORD, and the ACT Alliance EU are asking European governments to ‘develop more humane responses for refugee protection in full compliance with European obligations under international law and human rights so that the dignity of every person is respected and ensured’.
The letter also demands that ‘persons who have entered the EU territory must also have their social needs met as soon as possible after entry, regardless as to which stage in the asylum process they have reached. The reception conditions for persons seeking protection need to be at least in line with agreed EU minimum standards, and access to asylum procedures has to be guaranteed.’
Addressing the proposal where each Syrian refugee landing in Greece would be returned to Turkey but European countries would then accept an asylum seeker from a Turkish refugee camp in return, the organisations argue that the legality of the proposal is very doubtful: ‘Collective expulsions are contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights and according to the case-law of the European Union Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights, anyone is entitled to seek asylum in the country of arrival or any other country if his or her demand cannot be treated in decent conditions in the latter country’.
You can read the whole letter to the European Union’s 28 heads of government on the CCME website.