The European Council for Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) released its comparative report on asylum for 2021, drawing on findings from the AIDA reports.
The reports notes that Malta is amongst the countries which implemented unlawful border practices hindering the possibility for persons in need of protection to cross European borders with records of illegal push-backs and refusal to carry out rescues at sea.
The report also notes that Malta is amongst the countries where the family reunification procedure is restricted to refugee status holders and where the procedure is particularly lengthy and complex with many administrative obstacles often hindering the right to family reunification for refugees.
In October three of our lawyers attended an advanced course on strengthening international protection. Neil (Director), Alexis (Legal Officer) and Mireille (Junior Legal Officer) spent 3 days in Marseille participating in engaging discussions and workshops, whilst also networking with our friends and colleagues in other Member States.
Why do we attend these events? What are the benefits to our work, and to our beneficiaries?
As European civil society and professional organisations working on asylum, migration, humanitarian assistance and human rights, we are shocked by the continuing humanitarian crisis at the borders between the EU and Belarus which causes immense suffering and has led to the deaths of at least ten people.
While we fully condemn the actions of Belarus, we urge a response from the EU, the EU’s Member States, and all relevant European and international organisations that is in line with EU and international legal obligations and with standards of common decency.
As European NGOs working on asylum and migration and Afghan Diaspora organisations in Europe, we are alarmed about the situation in Afghanistan and concerned above all about the security of the people of Afghanistan, both those within the country and those displaced and seeking protection in the region and beyond.
The vast majority of displaced Afghans will likely be hosted in the neighbouring countries, as has been the case over decades of displacement from Afghanistan. For reference, since 2015, over six years, 570,000 Afghans sought protection in the EU and associated countries. The majority received a protection status. In contrast, by July 2021, Iran hosted 800,000 registered refugees and up to 3 million other displaced Afghans. In Pakistan, there were 1.4 million registered refugees and up to 2 million other displaced Afghans. These figures have been increasing by the day. In addition, there are close to 5.5 million IDPs in the country.
(This Joint Statement may be downloaded here, and the shorter version may be found here.)
The commitment to a more human approach to protection and the emphasis on the fact that migration is needed and positive for Europe with which the European Commission launched the Pact on Migration and Asylum is welcome. However, this rhetoric is reflected only sparsely in the related proposals. Instead of breaking with the fallacies of the EU’s previous approach and offering a fresh start, the Pact risks exacerbating the focus on externalisation, deterrence, containment and return.
This initial assessment by civil society of the legislative and non-legislative proposals is guided by the following questions:
- Are the proposals able to guarantee in law and in practice compliance with international and EU legal standards?
- Will they contribute to a fairer sharing of responsibility for asylum in Europe and globally?
- Will they work in practice?