On the occasion of the meeting of EU Justice and Home Affairs Ministers, PRO ASYL urges that Europe finally takes its responsibility and adopts a concerted resettlement programme for refugees fleeing Syria. “Europe’s shameful denial and indifference in the face of the greatest humanitarian crisis of this century must end”, says Karl Kopp, Director of European Affairs at PRO ASYL. As yet, there are no signs that the EU resettlement conference for refugees fleeing Syria, demanded by the German Parliament on May 8 2014, will be organised – the German Parliament had called for it to be held before the summer.
Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmström rightly calls for more legal routes for refugees to access protection in Europe and provides 6,000 Euro for each refugee resettled from a third country. These appeals have gone largely unheard because the political will of the EU Member States is lacking.
The EU needs to open safe routes for refugees fleeing Syria to access Europe. Only legal access routes for refugees can end the deaths in the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas. One possibility would be to lift visa requirements for asylum seekers from Syria. Resettlement places must be significantly increased. Europe must relieve the countries that are hosting the vast majority of refugees Turkey and Lebanon. In Turkey, there are over one million Syrian refugees. In Lebanon, almost 25 percent of the population are people seeking protection from Syria. The 28 EU countries currently have not even offered 20,000 places for the refugees – 14 Member States have not provided one single place. The many Syrian refugees who have already fled to Libya continue to risk their lives to get to Italy; their perilous crossings must be spared. Refugees should be safely and quickly resettled to Europe under an ad-hoc programme.
The Member States must stop push-backs at the EU’s borders. Violent and illegal push-backs of asylum seekers are happening daily on the EU’s external borders with Turkey in Greece and Bulgaria. These inhuman defensive policies are financed by the EU and tacitly accepted by the States in the centre of the EU. These human rights violations must be immediately stopped.
The EU and its Member States must facilitate family reunification. In Germany alone, there is a need of almost 80,000 places for extended family reunification from the war-torn country. The Syrian communities in Germany, Sweden and other EU countries must be helped generously and efficiently to bring their families to safety.