Tomorrow, 21 April 2016, the Ministers of Justice and Home Affairs of all EU Member States will meet to discuss the EU-Turkey agreement on migration, among other topics. We want to stress our opposition to this agreement, because it is in breach of the right to international protection.
“From the first day I arrived in Greece, I ended up in the Amegdaleza detention camp. Although it is called a ‘camp’, it was worse than a prison. Police told me that I had to be in the camp for 18 months or else I would be deported back to my country. If I go to my country, I will be in danger. I don’t want to die. I am a human, I want to live; I want to create a family. I have lots of wishes in my mind like anybody else.” explained N., a refugee from Afghanistan, to our friends in Caritas Greece. His words are heartbreaking. They also tell a lot about the conditions in which tens of thousands of asylum seekers are living in Europe today.
At Caritas Europa, we believe that the goal, included in the agreement, of pushing people back will create a dangerous precedent for the future and will undermine Member States’ obligation to guarantee the international right to seek asylum. In particular, the plan to close borders for people in need of international protection is a flagrant violation of this right.
Europe cannot close its borders and heart to the suffering of people in urgent need of solidarity and compassion. Therefore, we call on the members of the Ministers of Justice and Home Affairs of the Member States of the EU to:
1. Open safe and legal channels of entry into the EU;
2. Introduce a humanitarian visa, which is affordable and easily accessible via any EU embassy in countries of origin and transit;
3. Facilitate family reunification for refugees and migrants, hence fostering integration in receiving countries;
4. Avoid systematic detention of migrants in hotspots;
5. Stop pushing back migrants to non EU-countries and invest instead in integration policies.
Cover Photo: Getty / Dan Kitwood