Amnesty International presented this week a petition signed by 70,141 European citizens to the chair of the Civil Liberties Committee, Juan Fernando López Aguilar, who accepted it on behalf of the European Parliament. The petition calls on the European Parliament to fulfil its watchdog role, holding governments to account on their treatment of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers at Europe’s borders.
The presentation of the petition is part of the ‘When you don’t exist’ campaign, to draw attention to the plight of migrants forced to attempt illegal crossings into the EU. Nicolas Beger, Director of Amnesty Europe said, “Borders are one of the few areas where EU countries can largely escape scrutiny. Migrants suffer the impact of being ‘out of sight, out of mind’.” Speaking at the event in front of the European Parliament in Brussels, Ahmed, from Somalia, described his dangerous journey through Yemen, Syria, Turkey and Greece, to Sweden.
18,000 men, women and children are known to have died along European borders since 1988. In 2011 alone, 1,500 people drowned or went missing in the Mediterranean, fleeing the conflicts of the Arab Spring.