Thursday, 23 November 2017

UN in your language

“Let’s not pretend Europe’s response is working”

Eidomeni, Greece, in June 2015. Photo: UNHCR/A. McConnell

25.8.2015 – “Building fences, using tear gas and other forms of violence against migrants and asylum seekers, detention, withholding access to basics such as shelter, food or water and using threatening language or hateful speech will not stop migrants from coming or trying to come to Europe.”   

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau, today called on the European Union to establish a human rights-based, coherent and comprehensive migration policy which makes mobility its central asset. “It is the only way in which the EU can reclaim its border, effectively combat smuggling and empower migrants,” he said.

“Let’s not pretend that what the EU and its member states are doing is working. Migration is here to stay,” Mr. Crépeau stressed.

“Territorial sovereignty is about controlling the border, knowing who comes in and who leaves. It has never been about sealing the border to migration. Democratic borders are porous by nature. Providing migrants and asylum seekers with legal and safe mobility solutions will ensure such a control”, said Crépeau.

Regaining control of external borders would, according to the expert, mean that Europeans must urge their governments to offer migrants and asylum seekers official channels to enter and stay in Europe. “Smart visas” would be a solution allowing people to come to look for work and incentivise them to return if they don’t find the job in question, and would allow for a much better regulated and controlled official labour market, according to the expert.

Photo: UNHCR/J. AkkashHowever, he cautioned, such measures must be supported with sanctions against employers who exploit irregular migrants in underground labour markets (in agriculture, construction, care or hospitality). “This would considerably reduce the pull factor they exercise on irregular migrants and further reduce the market for recruiters, smugglers and exploitative employers,” the expert said.

“In addition, there is an obvious urgent need for Europe to create, jointly with other Global North countries, a massive resettlement programme for refugees like Syrians and Eritreans that could offer protection to 1.5 or 2 million of them over the next five years,” he said, highlighting that such a programme would impact the market for smugglers and allow European countries to decide who comes and make appropriate preparations.

“Talking about ‘flows’, ‘marauders’, and ‘swarms’ is an unsubtle way of dismissing the legitimacy of the asylum seekers and migrants’ claim to human rights, by creating images linking them to toxic waste or natural disasters” he noted. “We are talking about men, women, children and even babies, who have faced traumatic experiences. These are people just like you and me, and none of us have the moral high ground to say that we would never do the same if we were in their shoes.”

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UNRICs Related Links:

•    Article: UNHCR välkomnar avtal mellan Frankrike och Storbritannien

•    Article: EU receives 0,04 % of it’s population

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