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NGOs appeal for EU countries to relocate refugees

More than thirty NGO’s are calling on EU countries to form a coalition to relocate refugees and asylum seekers.

By Vatican News staff reporter

On the occasion of the European Council meeting which takes place from the 24-25 June, more than thirty NGO’s have written to António Costa, Prime Minister of Portugal, which currently holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

They are calling for a coalition of willing Member States “to initiate a concerted effort around relocation, starting with 5,000 vulnerable people from Greece.”

The undersigned organisations stress that while the New Pact on Migration and Asylum is being negotiated, “human rights continue to be violated at European borders and lives put on hold.”

Commitment to human dignity

Amid the continued negotiations and disagreements on the proposals in the New Pact, they urge Member States to take concrete action now for the thousands of refugees and migrants stranded in frontline countries “and show what a functioning solidarity-based European Asylum and Migration policy looks like in practice.”

The organisations point out that for more than five years, they have witnessed the inhumanity of the containment policy in camps on the Aegean islands and violent pushbacks by EU member states with the involvement of EU agency Frontex.

“These breaches of international and European law affect thousands of people seeking protection in Europe. It is time to reaffirm and put into practice Europe’s commitment to human rights and human dignity, say the NGOs.

Moria a year on

Almost a year after the massive fire at the Moria camp, on the Greek Island of Lesbos, the undersigned organisation’s highlight little has changed.

They note that many refugees were transferred to a new camp that soon became known as ‘Moria 2.0’ due to its appalling conditions.

The NGO’s acknowledge that a number of individual Member States did undertake some one-off initiatives to relocate asylum seekers and refugees, but they underline  “there is a need to intensify these efforts.”

They go on to say that there are too many Member States who are “turning a blind eye” to the situations at the borders of Europe and stress that “Relocation cannot wait.”

Relocation coalition

In conclusion, the organisations call on the Portuguese Presidency to form “a coalition of willing Member States committed to relocation” during the European Council meeting.

They emphasize a coalition “should lead the way towards a permanent, predictable relocation mechanism, starting by the relocation of 5,000 asylum seekers and refugees from Greece to safety, by September 2021."

Furthermore, they call for a relocation coordinator within the European Commission, who would be tasked with making relocation a priority in EU asylum and migration policy.

The NGOs state that “more than 500 European municipalities are ready to welcome refugees," adding that what is needed “is member states to join this movement and step up relocation.”

24 June 2021, 12:11