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Civil Society Letter to Heads of State and Government on EU Response to the Refugee Crisis

Dear Heads of State and Government,

We are civil society organisations, which are supported, collectively, by hundreds of thousands of people across Europe, working with those less fortunate to alleviate poverty, provide essential aid and defend people’s rights.

With xenophobic populism on the rise across Europe and the globe, this is an appeal for leadership to uphold the rights and values that have been founding principles of the European Union for 60 years. Together, we need to prevent legitimate concerns about migration management from being hijacked and used to derail the European project.

On a daily basis, we witness widespread solidarity with people who are fleeing brutal wars, persecution, human rights violations, instability, and extreme poverty. Throughout Europe and the world, we see people welcome refugees and migrants into their communities, open up their homes and donate money, materials and time to help. Only this week, many of them travelled to Brussels to call on you to uphold your commitments to relocate asylum seekers from Greece and “Bring Them Here”. We also hear people expressing their concerns about the future, asking their governments to show leadership and respond to the arrival of large numbers of people.

We take pride in the European commitment to international law and human rights and we look to you to foster and promote this commitment at home and abroad. Yet when increasing numbers of people in need arrived in the summer of 2015, Europe failed to come together and respond with humanity, dignity, and solidarity.  To this day, European nations are unwilling to respond in in line with their obligations under international and European law, defaulting to responses that keep people far away and out of sight.

We hear you repeating your commitment to European values – respect for human dignity, liberty, democracy, equality, the rule of law and human rights. But we expect to see them in your actions, too. Too many leaders have been preoccupied with stopping people from reaching Europe, at the risk of reducing access to protection for those who need it the most.

You have the responsibility to manage migration in a fair manner that addresses the legitimate concerns of citizens. It must be principled and based on facts, not on populist rhetoric. Strength doesn't mean turning away those most in need. Strength is about showing a way forward that upholds values.

Further, if the EU and its member states want to remain credible international actors, they cannot expect countries like Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon to host millions of refugees, while simultaneously pushing migrants and refugees back at EU borders, stranding thousands in inhumane living conditions on the Greek islands, or pushing them back into an uncontrolled conflict zone like Libya. Your decisions have life and death consequences, and if you continue to lower standards, countries around the globe will follow suit.

Instead of countering the rise of xenophobic populists, Europe’s response has too often been to copy their recipes. But an approach based on deterrence and border closures cannot override an effective long-term policy. We expect statesmanship that stands up for humanity and dignity and that addresses people’s fears, instead of fuelling them. We expect sustainable, long-term migration policies that guarantee respect for people’s rights rather than pushing them into danger. These include expanding safe and regular pathways to Europe, such as humanitarian and other visas, increasing resettlement spaces and improving access to family reunification schemes, as well as improving worker mobility across skill levels. Other global concerns such as conflict and instability, poverty, inequality and climate change must remain at the top of the European agenda.

You and your governments must assess the impact of your policies on the human rights and living conditions of women, men and children on the move, as well as Europe’s long standing commitment to uphold these rights and improve the lives of people everywhere.

On the brink of the European Union’s 60th anniversary we ask you to show solidarity, respect for humanity and dignity, and responsibility. We ask you to be truly inspiring leaders for the future. Our commitment to the European Union’s core values cannot falter. Only a Europe that really stands by its values can be a strong and credible leader in a world shaken by increasing populism and so-called alternative facts.

European history is full of people who were forced to flee their homes due to war and persecution.  The work European nations have done to develop and protect the rights of people over the last 70 years cannot be lost. Only a Europe that defends the rights of everyone, without exception, is a Europe we can be proud of.

Signatories

1

A Proposito di Altri Mondi Onlus

2

ACAT  

3

ACRA

4

ACT Alliance EU

5

Action Against Hunger

6

ActionAid Italy

7

ADP Amici dei Popoli

8

African Media Association Malta

9

Agir Ensemble pour les Droits de l'Homme

10

AI.BI. Amici dei Bambini

11

AIDOS

12

Albanian Human Rights Group (AHRG)

13

AMERA International

14

Amnesty International

15

Anna Lindh National Network in Finland

16

AOI – Associazione Organizzazioni Italiane cooperazione e solidarietà internazionale

17

ARCI

18

ARCS

19

Arsis

20

ASGI - Associazione Studi Giuridici Immigrazione

21

Asociacion en Prevencion y Asistencia de la Violencia   APAV

22

Asociación pro derechos humanos de España (APDHE)

23

ASPEm Onlus

24

Associació Salut i Família

25

Associaton for Integration and Migration (SIMI)

26

Associazione K_Alma

27

ASTI - Association de Soutien aux Travailleurs Immigrés

28

Austrian Red Cross

29

CARE International

30

CARITAS - Luxembourg  

31

Caritas Europa

32

CEFA Onlus

33

CEFIS  

34

CELIM

35

Centar za integraciju mladih

36

Centro per la Formazione alla Solidarietà Internazionale

37

Cercle de Coopération   

38

CESVI

39

CIAI

40

CICSENE

41

CIES

42

CIRÉ (coordination et initiatives pour réfugiés et étrangers)

43

CISV Onlus

44

Civic Committee for Human Rights from Croatia (CCHR)

45

CLAE  

46

CODE - Coordination des ONG pour les droits de l’enfant

47

COMI

48

Comitato Collaborazione Medica CCM

49

Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ)

50

Concord Italia

51

CONCORD Sweden

52

Consejo de la Juventud de España

53

Consortium of Migrants Assisting Organizations in the Czech Republic

54

Consorzio Ong Piemontesi COP

55

Coordinadora de ONG para el Desarrollo – España

56

Coordinamento Italiano NGO Internazionali

57

Cordaid

58

COSPE Onlus

59

CrEA Onlus

60

CVM Comunità Volontari per il Mondo

61

Danish Refugee Council

62

Detention Action

63

Diaconia - Center of Relief and Development

64

DNK - German National Committee for International Youth Work

65

Doras

66

Dorcas Aid International

67

Dutch Council for Refugees

68

Dutch League for Human Rights (DLHR)

69

EMERGENCY ONG – ONLUS

70

EU-CORD

71

EuroMed Rights

72

European Association for the Defence of Human Rights (AEDH),

73

European Evangelical Alliance

74

European Non-Governmental Sports Organisation ENGSO Youth

75

European Youth Forum

76

Federación de Asociaciones para la Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos España

77

FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights)

78

Finnish League for Human Rights (FLHR)

79

Finnish Lutheran Overseas Mission

80

Finnish Refugee Council

81

FMSI

82

FOCSIV – Federazione Organismi Cristiani Servizio Internazionale Volontario

83

Fondazione Fontana

84

Fundación Atabal

85

Generation 2.0 for Rights ,Equality and Diversity

86

GVC

87

Habitat for Humanity International, Europe, Middle East and Africa

88

Handicap International

89

Hellenic League for Human Rights (HLHR)

90

Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights - Poland

91

Human Rights Watch

92

ICMC Europe

93

International Aid Services

94

International Association For Refugees

95

International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims

96

International Rescue Committee

97

International Young Naturefriends - IYNF

98

INTERSOS

99

IPSIA

100

Islamic Relief UK

101

JRS

102

JRS Belgium

103

KISA - Action for Equality, Support, Antiracism

104

Kopin

105

La Strada International

106

Lafede.cat- Federació catalana

107

Latin American Wome's Rights Service (LAWRS) - UK

108

Latvian Human Rights Committee (LHRC)

109

Le Monde des Possibles ASBL

110

Legambiente

111

LIDU - Lega italiana dei Diritti dell'Uomo

112

Ligue des Droits de l’homme en Belgique (LDH)

113

Ligue suisse des droits de l’homme (LSDH)

114

Link2007 – Cooperazione in rete

115

LVIA

116

Macedonian Young Lawyers Association

117

MANI TESE

118

Marche solidali – coordinamento organizzazioni marchigiane di cooperazione e solidarietà internazionale

119

Médecins du Monde

120

Menedek - Hungarian Association for Migrants

121

Migrant Rights Centre Ireland

122

Migrant Voice - UK

123

Migrants’ Rights Network

124

Missing Children Europe

125

Movimento Shalom onlus

126

Naga

127

Nasc, the Irish Immigrant Support Centre

128

Norwegian Centre against Racism

129

One Third Sweden

130

ONG para el Desarrollo

131

Osservatorio AIDS

132

Overseas

133

Oxfam

134

Pax for Peace

135

PICUM

136

Platform Kinderen op de vlucht – Plate-forme Mineurs en exil

137

Polish Migration Forum

138

Polish Society of Anti-Discrimination Law (PSAL)

139

PRO ASYL

140

PRO.DO.C.S.

141

ProgettoMondo Mlal

142

Rainbow for Africa

143

Red Acoge

144

Save the Children

145

Secours Islamique France

146

SKOP - The National Platform of Maltese Development NGOs

147

SONIA per un Mondo Nuovo e Giusto

148

SPARK15

149

stichting LOS (National Support Organisation for the Undocumented)

150

Stichting Vluchteling

151

Swedish Refugee Advice Centre

152

Terra Nuova

153

Terre des Hommes

154

The Finnish NGDO Platform to the EU Kehys

155

The Migrants’ Rights Network

156

Trócaire

157

U.V.I.S.P.-ASSISI

158

United Protestant Church in Belgium

159

Welthungerhilfe

160

WeWorld

161

with the support of CONCORD Europe

162

World Vision

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