Leading aid agency calls for urgent EU action to tackle the migration and asylum crisis

Written by Martin Banks on 23 September 2019 in News
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International Rescue Committee demanded urgent action and long-term solutions.

Photo credit: Adobe Stock


The call on Monday comes as EU interior ministers from four countries met to discuss the latest migrant and asylum crisis.

At the meeting, ministers from Germany, France, Italy and Malta hope to strike a deal on the relocation of people rescued at sea and migrants crossing the Mediterranean.

According to a draft of the agreement the aim is to “set up a more predictable and efficient temporary solidarity mechanism in order to ensure the dignified disembarkation of migrants taken aboard on the high seas.”

On Sunday, the EU’s Commissioner responsible for Migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos travelled to Malta where he met with the country’s President George Vella. On Monday, Avramopoulos visited the European Asylum Support Office as well as participating in the meeting with the four interior ministers.


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Just ahead of the get together, the International Rescue Committee (IRC), headed by former UK foreign minister David Miliband, called for urgent action to tackle the ongoing migration and asylum problems in the Mediterranean.

An IRC spokesman told this website, “The devastation caused by short term solutions to the migration response is seen on a daily basis, with overcrowding in reception centres in Greece and lives lost at sea across the Mediterranean making headlines each summer.”

“The EU meeting of interior ministers is an opportunity for European leaders to take action and put the idea of solidarity into practice. This can be achieved by establishing a predictable disembarkation and relocation system that safeguards the rights of refugees and asylum seekers reaching the European shores.

“Moreover, ahead of this week’s UN General Assembly, EU countries must lead the way by demonstrating they do not leave behind displaced people within their own borders.”

“The devastation caused by short term solutions to the migration response is seen on a daily basis, with overcrowding in reception centres in Greece and lives lost at sea across the Mediterranean making headlines each summer” International Rescue Committee spokesman

Over 4,000 people have arrived on Greek islands since the start of September and, according to the IRC, have been “met with a lack of adequate shelter and record levels of overcrowding.”

The IRC says the “tragedy behind the numbers is clear: this is not an unforeseen emergency but a vicious cycle that requires a measured and collective response by European leaders.”

The IRC has joined 11 NGOs in a joint call on the Greek government and European leaders to “abandon ad hoc solutions to migration and instead focus on a long term strategy that puts the livelihoods of refugees and the interests of host communities at its heart.”

Currently, there are 22,360 asylum seekers languishing in reception centres,living in poor conditions and often exposed to violence and exploitation. Reception centres on many Greek islands are 500% percent over capacity, says the IRC.

“This is avoidable but the only way to achieve a durable solution is through European solidarity and political will to protect those in need, provide decent housing and support refugees to get jobs,” says the Committee.

“Migration is a complex issue and sustainable solutions must be implemented” Dimitra Kalogeropoulou, International Rescue Committee Greece director

Dimitra Kalogeropoulou, IRC Greece director, noted, “Although public interest in the so-called ‘crisis’ on the Greek islands is waning, desperate people continue to seek protection on its shores.”

“The devastation caused by short term solutions to the migration response is seen on a daily basis, with headlines dominated in summer by overcrowding in reception centres and stories of people living in tents in the midst of winter. Migration is a complex issue and sustainable solutions must be implemented.

“Greece must invest in the assets that refugees bring to their new communities and support them to rebuild their lives, while meeting the needs of local communities. Similarly, other European countries must acknowledge their role in the response and share the responsibility to relocate those who are now caught in limbo on islands like Lesbos.”

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at The Parliament Magazine

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