MONDAY, MAY 16, 2016
NEW YORK - The 214th Executive Committee of the World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) - elected by non-partisan civil society organizations in 100 countries worldwide - expresses its deep concern for the safety and well-being of thousands of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere seeking asylum in Europe.
With an inflow of over a million of refugees in 2015, Europe confronts today its most serious migration crisis since World War II. Last year, the European Union showed that it could manage the refugee and migration flows effectively and in full respect of international law. Regrettably, only a handful of EU member States opened their doors to refugees, with many EU members refusing to show solidarity and share the responsibility. Thousands of refugees live today in Europe in dire conditions without a clear path to resettlement and in constant fear of deportation.
As Europe eases into summer and shorter sea routes are made ineffectual by the EU-Turkey agreement, more refugees will be sure to take their chances aboard unseaworthy vessels. In 2016, over 180’000 refugees and migrants have already reached Europe by sea. Short of 800 have died or gone missing attempting the journey; 500 refugees and migrants died in April as their boat capsized, the worst tragedy at sea this year.
To prevent further deaths and ensure fair treatment of refugees, we echo calls by UNHCR for the opening of regular pathways for the admission of refugees and asylum-seekers to all European member States, the financing and implementation of resettlement and humanitarian admission programs, more flexible mechanisms for family reunification, labor mobility schemes, and student visas.
The response to the flows of refugees into Europe must include clearly outlined and agreed protection safeguards for all individuals under international and European Union law. Ad-hoc agreements, such as the EU-Turkey agreement, do not guarantee effective management of individual cases and contribute to the stigmatization of refugees in the region.
We call upon all governments, and in particular States members of the European Union, to act on the basis of international humanitarian and human rights law and norms. Alongside ensuring safe and swift resettlement of refugees as they flee war, violence and persecution in their own countries, the international community should take all necessary measures to restore peace in their countries of origin.