Europe turns its back on refugees

Last updated April 23, 2015Press release

Europe’s leaders have proposed an immoral, impractical and illegal set of actions to prevent refugees from seeking safety.

Refugee Action comments on the leaked draft conclusions of today’s European Council summit, following the tragic deaths in the Mediterranean.

Stephen Hale OBE, Chief Executive of Refugee Action, said:

“The latest draft of today’s ‘Action Plan’ is little more than a fig leaf to spare the blushes of European leaders.

“Europe’s leaders have proposed an immoral, impractical and illegal set of actions to prevent refugees and migrants from seeking safety from conflict in Libya, Syria, Eritrea and elsewhere.

“People fleeing war zones have a legal right to seek protection. By pre-determining that the majority of people must be rapidly returned Europe will be plunged into territory that is illegal and inhumane.

“We need to see an emergency response to this escalating humanitarian crisis that is happening on our doorstep. More than 1,500 people drowned in the Mediterranean Sea this year as a result of Europe’s decision to stop search and rescue. Lifting this death sentence for refugees is just the first part of the solution.

“The EU urgently needs to establish safe routes for people fleeing conflict, this includes a comprehensive European resettlement plan. The proposed voluntary resettlement pilot of up to 5,000 people is shameful. That is just 0.1% of the men, women and children that have been forced to flee the conflict in Syria.

“Europe’s leaders have upheld their duty in the past. In the 90s, Europe offered a safe haven to thousands of people fleeing the conflict in Bosnia and Kosovo. Today they have the opportunity to rediscover their humanity and to do the same.”

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