22 January 2016

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) released a report this week denouncing the catastrophic failure of the European Union’s response to the humanitarian crisis which has been unfolding in 2015. The report – entitled Obstacle Course to Europe – strongly condemns the lack of adequate and humane policies put in place by the EU. The focus on securitisation and deterrence of arrivals has in many ways worsened the crisis, increasing the need for smugglers and pushing refugees and migrants towards even more dangerous routes to safety.

MSF highlights how by denying a dignified reception and pushing back people, “European states have eroded the very foundations of international refugee and human rights law”. Deadly sea crossings, razor wire fences and continuously changing policies of closing borders have had an atrocious effect on the medical and mental health conditions of hundreds of thousands of people.

The report urges the EU and its Member States to swiftly provide safe and legal channels for people seeking asylum, to create legal migration pathways in order to decrease the demand for smuggling networks and irregular migration, and to create an ambitious search and rescue mechanism to proactively look for boats in distress.

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This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 22 January 2016. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.