For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 

International Rescue Committee statement on EU Council Migration Summit

WASHINGTON - In light of the decisions made at yesterday's EU Council, the International Rescue Committee have released a statement:

Imogen Sudbery, International Rescue Committee’s advocacy lead in Brussels, says:

“It seems that EU leaders need to be reminded that anyone who has a well-founded fear of persecution has the right to seek asylum in the EU. Doing so is not illegal; rather it is a right that is protected in international law. We are deeply troubled by the Council’s repetitive use of the term “illegal” to describe migration, especially when there are currently so few safe and legal routes to claim asylum in Europe.

“’Disembarkation platforms’ could effectively transfer some of Europe’s responsibilities for refugees onto the developing world, which already hosts 84% of the world’s refugees. The EU would be asking countries with far less capacity to process and protect people seeking asylum to carry the lions’ share of the responsibility. This is an abdication of European responsibility and sets the wrong example.

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“Further, ’Disembarkation platforms’ pose more questions than answers. It is not at all clear that they could be legal; safe and humane; and use due process. For example: would a person have to get on a smuggler’s boat to Europe to access them? Under which country’s law would claims be assessed? Out-sourcing the application of EU law is neither feasible nor desirable.

“Similarly, how do we ensure that conditions at these facilities would meet humanitarian standards? On the Greek islands, asylum seekers have found themselves in overcrowded and dangerous conditions, sometimes fatally so. It is unclear how safe and humane conditions could be guaranteed in centres outside the EU.

“And, while the proposal to establish hotspots to host and process people’s asylum claims on European soil could help share responsibility more fairly across the EU, it is a far cry from the kind of comprehensive system that needs to be in place to ensure migration is managed in an effective and humane manner. This approach must be properly thought through to ensure due process is followed and procedural safeguards upheld.

“Whilst the commitment to closer partnership with African countries on development is important and welcome, many of today’s Council Conclusions amount to a series of short-term, reactive policies, not the reforms that are urgently needed to provide sustainable, long-term solutions. What is needed is true leadership to develop a migration system that is humane and well managed. This includes an agreement on an EU-wide responsibility sharing mechanism that can address the needs of those arriving spontaneously and seeking asylum; adopting the proposed Union Resettlement Framework (URF) with scaled up resettlement places to meet a more equitable global share of resettlement needs; greater safe and legal routes for migration, such as better use and facilitation of the EU Seasonal Workers Directive, and a comprehensive integration action plan to ensure new arrivals to Europe are able to fulfil their potential and make a positive contribution to local communities.”

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The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover, and gain control of their future.

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