[PSRList] FW: [CCRLIST] STATEMENT BY UN HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES, ANTÓNIO GUTERRES ON REFUGEE CRISIS IN EUROPE

Yosief Araya yaraya at rstp.ca
Fri Sep 4 15:03:44 EDT 2015


Fyi

 

From: Canadian Council for Refugees [mailto:CCRLIST at YORKU.CA] On Behalf Of
Gisèle Nyembwe
Sent: September-04-15 2:30 PM
To: CCRLIST at YORKU.CA
Subject: [CCRLIST] STATEMENT BY UN HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES, ANTÓNIO
GUTERRES ON REFUGEE CRISIS IN EUROPE

 

Geneva, 4 September 2015 

 

STATEMENT BY UN HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES, ANTÓNIO GUTERRES ON REFUGEE
CRISIS IN EUROPE

 

The European Union is preparing key emergency meetings to take decisions in
its response to the present refugee and migration crisis. The situation
requires a massive common effort that is not possible with the current
fragmented approach. Europe is facing its biggest refugee influx in decades.
More than 300,000 people have risked their lives to cross the Mediterranean
Sea so far this year.

 

Over 2,600 didn’t survive the dangerous crossing, including three-year-old
Aylan, whose photo has just stirred the hearts of the world public. After
arriving on Europe’s shores and borders, they continue their journey –
facing chaos and suffering indignity, exploitation and danger at borders and
along the way. The selfless generosity of private citizens and civil society
organizations reaching out to welcome and help the new arrivals is truly
inspiring. And there has been exemplary political and moral leadership from
a number of countries. But overall, Europe has failed to find an effective
common response, and people have suffered as a result. To address this
untenable situation, we all must keep in mind a number of fundamental
points:

 

1.            This is a primarily refugee crisis, not only a migration
phenomenon. The vast majority of those arriving in Greece come from conflict
zones like Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan and are simply running for their
lives. All people on the move in these tragic circumstances deserve to see
their human rights and dignity fully respected, independently of their legal
status. But we cannot forget the particular responsibility all states have
vis a vis refugees, in accordance with international law. 

 

2.            Europe cannot go on responding to this crisis with a piecemeal
or incremental approach. No country can do it alone, and no country can
refuse to do its part. It is no surprise that, when a system is unbalanced
and dysfunctional, everything gets blocked when the pressure mounts. This is
a defining moment for the European Union, and it now has no other choice but
to mobilize full force around this crisis. The only way to solve this
problem is for the Union and all member states to implement a common
strategy, based on responsibility, solidarity and trust.

 

3.            Concretely, this means taking urgent and courageous measures
to stabilize the situation and then finding a way to truly share
responsibility in the mid to longer term. The EU must be ready, with the
consent and in support of the concerned governments – mainly Greece and
Hungary, but also Italy – to put in place immediate and adequate emergency
reception, assistance and registration capacity. The European Commission
should mobilize the EU asylum, migration and civil protection agencies and
mechanisms for this purpose, including the resources of member states and
with the support of UNHCR, IOM and civil society. From our side, UNHCR is
fully committed to step up its efforts. It is essential that refugee
families that disembark in Europe after having lost everything are welcomed
into a safe and caring environment.

 

4.            People who are found to have a valid protection claim in this
initial screening must then benefit from a mass relocation programme, with
the mandatory participation of all EU member states. A very preliminary
estimate would indicate a potential need to increase relocation
opportunities to as many as 200,000 places. This can only work if it goes
hand in hand with adequate reception capacities, especially in Greece.
Solidarity cannot be the responsibility of only a few EU member states.

 

5.            Those who are found not to be in need of international
protection and who cannot benefit from legal migration opportunities should
be helped to return quickly to their home countries, in full respect of
their human rights.

 

6.            The only ones who benefit from the lack of a common European
response are the smugglers and traffickers who are making profit from
people’s desperation to reach safety. More effective international
cooperation is required to crack down on smugglers, including those
operating inside the EU, but in ways that allow for the victims to be
protected. But none of these efforts will be effective without opening up
more opportunities for people to come legally to Europe and find safety upon
arrival. Thousands of refugee parents are risking the lives of their
children on unsafe smuggling boats primarily because they have no other
choice. European countries – as well as governments in other regions – must
make some fundamental changes to allow for larger resettlement and
humanitarian admission quotas, expanded visa and sponsorship programmes,
scholarships and other ways to enter Europe legally. Crucially, family
reunification has to become a real, accessible option for many more people
than is currently the case. If these mechanisms are expanded and made more
efficient, we can reduce the number of those who are forced to risk their
lives at sea for lack of alternative options.

 

Beyond the immediate response, it is clear that this situation will require
us to reflect seriously about the future. This massive flow of people will
not stop until the root causes of their plight are addressed. Much more must
be done to prevent conflicts and stop the ongoing wars that are driving so
many from their homes. The countries neighbouring war zones, which shelter 9
in 10 refugees worldwide, must be supported more strongly, along with the
funding required. At the same time, it is also essential that development
cooperation policies are reoriented with the objective of giving people the
opportunity to have a future in their own countries. 

 

Europe is facing a moment of truth. This is the time to reaffirm the values
upon which it was built.

 

END.

 

-------------------------------------------------------

 

 

Gisèle Nyembwe

Public Information Associate/Collaboratrice adjointe chargée de
l’information

UNHCR Canada

280 rue Albert Street

Suite 401

Ottawa ON K1P 5G8

Tel/Tél: 613-232-0909 ext./poste 225

Mobile: 613-986-4300

Email/Courriel:  <mailto:nyembwe at unhcr.org> nyembwe at unhcr.org

 <http://www.unhcr.ca> www.unhcr.ca 

 

 

 

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