EU: ensuring international protection must be priority
14 October 2015

A Syrian family walks in the direction of the Tovarnik train station in Croatia. JRS South East Europe is providing support to forced migrants in Macedonia, Kosovo and Croatia on a daily basis (Photo: Sergi Cámara / JRS).
All EU Member States must respect their international obligations under the UN Refugee Convention and under international and European Union law. Saving lives and protecting the human rights of asylum seekers must be prioritised.
Brussels, 14 October 2015 – The European Council’s meeting on 15-16 October will focus mainly on preparing the Valletta Summit to be held on 11-12 November. JRS Europe welcomes this initiative as it is necessary to enhance dialogue with African countries and discuss issues surrounding forced migration and displacement. However, EU political leaders should not turn a blind-eye to the material and protection needs of refugees and asylum seekers.

With the winter season approaching, conditions for new arrivals will deteriorate if all Member States do not guarantee appropriate reception conditions and do not treat asylum seekers with dignity and respect.
 
The summit will also discuss the EU external borders and return policy. Given last week's Declaration of the High-level Conference on the Eastern Mediterranean - Western Balkans Route, there are concerns that policy makers gathered at tomorrow's summit will rather focus again on border management, deportations and the shifting of protection obligations to the third countries that cannot ensure proper standards of protection.  
 
"All EU Member States must respect their international obligations under the UN Refugee Convention and under international and European Union law. Saving lives and protecting the human rights of asylum seekers must be prioritised," says JRS Europe advocacy officer Olga Siebert. "Increased border controls will not help asylum seekers to access the international protection they need."
 
JRS Europe calls upon the EU to create more safe and legal ways to enter Europe, such as the issuing of ‘humanitarian visas’ and of more resettlement places. Traumatised people take dangerous routes to reach Europe, often turning to smugglers and traffickers as their only survival option. In addition, JRS Europe calls for a truly Common European Asylum System, which will protect the lives and dignity of all refugees and asylum seekers.

Further information:

JRS Europe in the Christian group of 7 NGOs recently sent a letter to MEPs showing how a humanitarian visa system would save lives. Read it here (includes testimonies at end).







Press Contact Information
Oscar Spooner
oscar.spooner@jrs.net
+32 2 250 3225