07 March 2014

“In spite of the size and proximity of this human tragedy, Turkey is the only member state of the Council of Europe to have opened its arms fully to Syrians in need, having received alone an estimated 1 million. This amounts to well over ten times the number of Syrians in all other 46 Council of Europe member states combined,” Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muižnieks stated this week.

Commissioner Muižnieks argued that in terms of EU countries’ willingness to receive refugees from Syria, Germany is doing the best, having pledged to receive 10,000 Syrians through a humanitarian admission programme, in addition to the more than 18,000 Syrian refugees who have already found their way to the country. Muižnieks also acknowledged Sweden’s efforts, which granted permanent residence permits to the 21,000 Syrians received last year.  

All other European countries are failing to meet the challenges arising from this crisis. Muižnieks urged states to refrain from using the Dublin regulation for returning Syrian refugees to countries such as Bulgaria, Greece, Italy and Malta, where the asylum systems are already overstretched or are highly dysfunctional.

The Commissioner stressed that there have been credible reports that border guards and other law enforcement officers in some countries have been mistreating Syrian refugees, robbing them, and pushing them back to countries with high numbers of refugees from Syria. The Commissioner called on Europe to keep its borders open to refugees and to support them in rebuilding their lives.

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This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 07 March 2014
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