22 April 2016

A number of NGOs in the UK, including ECRE members, the British Refugee Council, the Scottish Refugee Council and Refugee Action, have published a joint briefing criticising the UK and European governments’ policies towards those seeking international protection. 

While commending the UK government for its aid to countries surrounding Syria for hosting large numbers of refugees, they consider that this does not absolve the UK of its moral responsibility to offer a safe haven to those in need of international protection. It calls for a coordinated response that is humane and rights-based, conducted in the spirit of solidarity with a commitment to shared responsibility, enables a dignified future for displaced persons and one that is focused on preventing and resolving the crises that drive displacement.

Such a response should include the expansion of safe and legal routes to the UK through resettlement, making family reunification easier, developing a humanitarian visa scheme, suspending Dublin transfers to other European countries and using the existing legal mechanism within the Dublin Regulation to transfer people to the UK based on family unity. 

The report considers that it is an EU-wide responsibility to ensure humane reception conditions in countries such as Greece. It calls on the UK to support search and rescue operations that prioritise saving lives at sea and to raise breaches of EU asylum laws with the Commission, in particular in the hotspots. In addition, it calls on the UK, together with other European governments to improve the humanitarian response in Europe for people on the move, prevent border closures and assist in identifying and protecting vulnerable people.

Furthermore, the UK should advocate and support the implementation of access to a fair, effective and humane asylum system wherever protection is sought, in accordance with EU and international refugee and human rights law; and improve conditions in host countries by development assistance focused on poverty eradication.  

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