The European Commission has echoed our call for EU Member States to help more refugees reach safety in Europe.
The Commission’s proposals, published today, call for EU states to resettle 20,000 more refugees who cannot stay safely in their own countries.
The Commission says:
In addition to the relocation of those already on EU soil, the EU has a duty to contribute its share in helping displaced persons in clear need of international protection. Such vulnerable people cannot be left to resort to the criminal networks
of smugglers and traffickers. There must be safe and legal ways for them to reach the EU. The UNHCR has endorsed a target of 20,000 resettlement places for the EU per year by the year 2020.
The resettlement programme would be supported by 50 million euros of new European funding.
Britain currently resettles just 750 refugees from around the world every year, and has resettled a pitiful 143 refugees from Syria since the conflict began in 2011. Through resettlement, we bring people from the region directly to live in safety. Each resettlement place we offer transforms and saves lives.
Commissioners also called for Member States to utilise other legal avenues to help refugees reach safety, including through letting people reunite with their family who are already living in safety.
At the moment, it’s very difficult for refugees to come to live in safety with their loved ones who are already in Britain. Harsh family reunion rules mean many refugees can be separated from their children, siblings and parents who could be trapped living in dangerous situations. Because of the restrictions, people are often forced to travel illegally and dangerously in order to reach their loved ones.
Refugee Advocacy Manager Anna Musgrave said: “It’s encouraging that Europe is waking up to the deadly disgrace on our doorstep by acknowledging the role all countries have to play in helping people fleeing for their lives find refuge.
“This isn’t about party politics, numbers or Brussels telling us what to do; it’s about desperate people whose lives depend on our Government showing real leadership by demonstrating the values that we in Britain hold dear: compassion and humanity.
“The Prime Minister’s choice is simple, yet historic. Will he choose to offer a lifeline to some of the world’s most vulnerable people, or will he jeopardise Britain’s proud tradition of protecting refugees?”
The proposals also call for:
- More funding to be allocated to the EU’s border patrol operation, Triton. This could be good news, but it’s vital that this money is channelled into increasing Europe’s search and rescue capability.
- A relocation scheme of refugees within Europe to deal with arrivals so states share responsibility for protecting refugees. Britain would not be automatically bound by such a scheme, but we believe Britain should be volunteering to protect more of the vulnerable people who arrive on Europe’s doorstep desperately seeking refuge.
- A crackdown on people smugglers in order to identify, capture and destroy their boats. The focus on tackling people smugglers completely ignores the underlying reason why men, women and children are forced to take dangerous journeys in the first place: Europe’s hostile immigration policies simply leave them with no other choice. The only credible way of putting the smugglers out of business is to create alternative routes to safety.
- A multi purpose processing centre to be established in Niger. It’s difficult to see how this would work in practice without a considerable, global increased commitment to resettling people who are found to need protection. Millions of refugees around the world already live in refugee camps, often for decades; there is a real risk of creating another one. The experience of refugees living in camps around the world undoubtedly varies, but the people we encounter tell us it can be like hell on earth – a place of no hope, no future and often, not enough food. Only around 1% of refugees will ever be resettled.