Europe: Refugees & Migrants’ Rights

Just over 100,000 people arrived irregularly at European Union (EU) borders in 2019, the majority by sea. The EU and its member states focused on preventing arrivals, outsourcing responsibility to countries outside the bloc, and repelling people unlawfully at EU borders. An increase in arrivals to Greek islands and at the Greece-Turkey land border in early 2020 underscores the willingness of political leaders like Turkey’s President Erdogan to use refugees and migrants as pawns and demonstrates the very urgent need for the EU to adopt an approach to migration grounded in respect for human rights. The EU continues to cooperate with Libya on migration controls, despite overwhelming evidence of systematic abuses against migrants and refugees and the ongoing conflict. Reform of the EU asylum system and initiatives to improve responsibility-sharing among member states remain stalled.

  • European Union
    The commitment to a more human approach to protection and the emphasis on the fact that migration is needed and positive for Europe with which the European Commission launched the Pact on Migration and Asylum is welcome. However, this rhetoric is reflected only sparsely in the related proposals. Instead of breaking with the fallacies of the EU’s previous approach and offering a fresh start, the Pact risks exacerbating the focus on externalisation, deterrence, containment and return.
    The Pact on Migration and Asylum
  • European Union
    The Greek Coast Guard has been accused of using rescue equipment - namely inflatable, motorless life rafts - to leave asylum seekers and migrants adrift in open water close to the Turkish sea border. May 25, 2020
  • European Union
    We, the undersigned 29 human rights and humanitarian non-governmental organizations, jointly call on you to urgently establish an inquiry into all allegations of unlawful returns of migrants to Turkey, including pushbacks and collective expulsions, at Greece’s land and sea borders with Turkey, particularly with regard to allegations of such practices concerning the Evros region and the Aegean islands, as well as alleged violations of Greek, EU and International law on the rights of asylum seekers.