21.07.2007

Euro­pe con­ti­nues to shirk its respon­si­bi­li­ty Every day more than 100 civi­li­ans lose their life in Iraq. Accord­ing to the UN, one out of eight Iraqi is on the run by now. While the situa­ti­on of Iraqi refu­gees in the regi­on is beco­m­ing increa­singly cri­ti­cal, almost all European coun­tries con­ti­nue to shirk their respon­si­bi­li­ty to

Euro­pe con­ti­nues to shirk its respon­si­bi­li­ty

Every day more than 100 civi­li­ans lose their life in Iraq. Accord­ing to the UN, one out of eight Iraqi is on the run by now. While the situa­ti­on of Iraqi refu­gees in the regi­on is beco­m­ing increa­singly cri­ti­cal, almost all European coun­tries con­ti­nue to shirk their respon­si­bi­li­ty to pro­tect the­se peop­le. Ger­ma­ny does not help actively eit­her. On the con­tra­ry, ever­ything pos­si­ble is done to pre­vent Iraqi refu­gees from ent­e­ring the coun­try, to with­draw gran­ted rights and to pre­pa­re depor­ta­ti­ons to Iraq.

The sta­te of human rights in Iraq

The alli­an­ce led by the USA star­ted their war against Iraq in 2003. Today, Iraq has dis­in­te­gra­ted into a civil war. UNHCR has noted that lar­ge parts of the popu­la­ti­on pro­fess their com­mit­ment to strict Isla­mic values, which in turn means that the situa­ti­on of the women is steadi­ly dete­rio­ra­ting.

The sup­ply situa­ti­on is pre­ca­rious. High unem­ploy­ment and unsa­tis­fac­to­ry infra­st­ruc­tu­re mean that two out of three Iraqis depend on food rati­ons. Twen­ty three per cent of the child­ren are chro­ni­cal­ly under­nou­ris­hed. About 70 per cent of the Iraqi popu­la­ti­on do not have access to an ade­qua­te sup­ply of drin­king water.

Ano­t­her hazard is the affi­lia­ti­on to cer­tain eth­nic and reli­gious groups. Mino­ri­ties like Chris­ti­ans and Man­dae­ans are per­se­cu­t­ed. Sun­ni mili­tants are kil­ling women wea­ring trou­sers and men wea­ring shorts. Rival Shii­te mili­ti­as are figh­t­ing fier­ce­ly for con­trol of oil fields. Today, Iraq seems to be fur­ther away from being a peace­ful and free coun­try than ever.

Last resort flight

UNHCR esti­ma­tes that more than two mil­li­ons peop­le have fled Iraq sin­ce the begin­ning of the war four years ago. Ano­t­her 1,9 mil­li­on are intern­al­ly dis­pla­ced, exi­les in their own coun­try. Refu­gees and exi­les are to be found in almost all soci­al groups. The Chris­ti­an mino­ri­ty is disap­pearing par­ti­cu­lar­ly fast. Most often the escape rou­te ends (for the moment, at least) in coun­tries neigh­bou­ring Iraq, not in well-to-do Euro­pe.

Iraqi refu­gees in Euro­pe

Only pre­cious few of the mil­li­ons of Iraq refu­gees have the strength and the means to fight their way to Euro­pe. In 2006 about 20,000 Iraqi refu­gees app­lied for asyl­um in the EU coun­tries. Only one out of ten refu­gees from Iraq is gran­ted pro­tec­tion sta­tus in the EU.

The num­ber of Iraqi refu­gees in EU coun­tries is mar­gi­nal. In 2006 the­re were 2,800 in the Nether­lands, 2,100 in Ger­ma­ny, 1,400 in Greece, 1,300 in Gre­at Bri­tain. Swe­den with its only 9 mil­li­on inha­bi­tants has taken in 9,000 refu­gees – almost half of the Iraqis loo­king for pro­tec­tion in Euro­pe.

The EU par­li­a­ment has cal­led for tan­gi­ble sup­port for refu­gee pro­tec­tion insi­de and out­si­de Iraq. Among other things, the par­li­a­ment has deman­ded refu­gee sta­tus for Iraqi refu­gees and con­tri­bu­ti­ons for the inta­ke of refu­gees. But the European Home Secre­ta­ries con­ti­nue to igno­re the­se demands. They have deci­ded on finan­ci­al help of a mere 18 mil­li­on euros for coun­tries taking in Iraq refu­gees.

No pro­tec­tion in Ger­ma­ny

So far Ger­ma­ny has not come for­ward to offer shel­ter to Iraqi refu­gees eit­her. In 2006, only 2,117 Iraqi refu­gees mana­ged to enter the coun­try and app­ly for asyl­um. In dealing with peop­le from Iraq see­king pro­tec­tion Ger­ma­ny plays a par­ti­cu­lar­ly infa­mous role. In that very same year 2006, only 189 Iraqi were ack­now­led­ged as refu­gees or were gran­ted pro­tec­tion from depor­ta­ti­on for huma­ni­ta­ri­an rea­sons.

What’s more, peop­le who have been living here for years – ack­now­led­ged refu­gees with a resi­dence per­mit – have been sys­te­ma­ti­cal­ly strip­ped of their rights. In 2006 4,400 revo­ca­ti­on pro­ce­du­res were star­ted by the Federal Office for Migra­ti­on and Refu­gees (BAMF), aiming to depri­ve Iraqi refu­gees of their refu­gee sta­tus. The­se revo­ca­ti­on pro­ce­du­res ­affect more than 18,000 peop­le. Accord­ing to Ger­ma­ny, the­re is no per­se­cu­ti­on in Iraq after Sad­dam Hussein’s fall which might be rele­vant to asyl­um. The situa­ti­on in Iraq is far from being sta­ble as pro­vi­ded for in the Gene­va refu­gee con­ven­ti­on, howe­ver. The Ger­man revo­ca­ti­on prac­tice is uni­que in Euro­pe. Peop­le who are alrea­dy inte­gra­ted into Ger­man socie­ty are plun­ged into uncer­tain­ty and put on a wai­ting list for depor­ta­ti­on.

Depor­ta­ti­ons to Iraq?

About 14,000 Iraqi are sub­ject to depor­ta­ti­on from Ger­ma­ny. Due to a lack of air con­nec­tions and to nego­tia­ti­ons on return, Ger­ma­ny has not yet exe­cu­t­ed depor­ta­ti­ons on a lar­ge sca­le. Still, the Home Secre­ta­ries of the Ger­man federal sta­tes have attemp­ted to deport Iraqi refu­gees into North Iraq. As of now, ‚offen­ders‘ and so-cal­led ‚secu­ri­ty risks‘ are due for depor­ta­ti­on, alt­hough the­se cate­go­ries are rather ques­tion­ab­le. For examp­le, someo­ne lea­ving his coun­ty wit­hout per­mis­si­on or sen­ding money back home to their fami­lies in spi­te of the eco­no­mic embar­go may beco­me an ‚offen­der‘. Over and above pro­ble­ma­tic indi­vi­du­al cases, the Home Secre­ta­ries are fur­ther stri­ving to deport many Iraqi refu­gees into the war zone. During their mee­ting in Novem­ber 2006 they con­fir­med their aim „to expand repa­tria­ti­ons to Iraq as soon as pos­si­ble“.

Result

Iraq is bur­ning, mil­li­ons of refu­gees are on the road insi­de and out­si­de the coun­try – and Ger­ma­ny and most EU coun­tries try to refu­se or with­draw pro­tec­tion with poli­ti­cal and legal means. The European and par­ti­cu­lar­ly the Ger­man poli­cy regar­ding Iraqi refu­gees con­tra­dic­ts inter­na­tio­nal law and is a dis­grace. The coun­tries neigh­bou­ring Iraq are forced to deal with the pro­blem. Ins­tead of con­tri­bu­ting to the res­cue of peop­le from the war zone tho­se in char­ge are try­ing to deport peop­le to that very same regi­on and are trea­ting refu­gees like trou­ble­so­me peti­tio­ners.

UNHCR, the reli­ef orga­ni­za­ti­ons working in Iraq and the EU par­li­a­ment sup­port the refu­gees from Iraq and have urgent­ly cal­led for help.

Tog­e­ther with the European Refu­gee Coun­cil, Pro Asyl asks the European coun­tries and par­ti­cu­lar­ly Ger­ma­ny to no lon­ger depri­ve Iraq refu­gees of their rights but to help them joint­ly and in soli­da­ri­ty.