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?
aditus foundation is happy to announce the launch of the 2019 AIDA report.
The Asylum Information Database (AIDA) is a project of the European Council on Refugees & Exiles (ECRE), producing national reports on the situation of asylum in a number of EU Member States. The reports covers key areas such as asylum procedures, reception conditions and detention.
It aims to provide up-to-date information on asylum practice in 23 European countries, which is accessible to researchers, advocates, legal practitioners and the general public. The database also seeks to promote the implementation and transposition of EU asylum legislation reflecting the highest possible standards of protection in line with international refugee and human rights law and based on best practice. The 2019 AIDA report on Malta was researched and prepared by aditus foundation and edited by ECRE.
Together with a comprehensive overview of asylum procedures and updated figures, the report highlights the main issues for the year 2019, in particular the significant increase of migrants disembarked in Malta following Search and Rescue operations leading to a renewed pressure on the reception system and the systematic and automatic detention of all asylum-seekers.
The full report can be downloaded here.
After years of treating asylum and migration in crisis mode, we believe the proposed Pact on Asylum and Migration is an opportunity for the EU and its Member States to change direction. It is an opportunity to develop a rational and rights-based asylum and migration policy. Recent cooperation among Member States signals the possibility of a fresh start, which should build on the lessons of the recently attempted and largely failed reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS). However, there is a risk that the Pact may include or prepare the groundwork for damaging legislative proposals, in particular what has been termed the “border instrument”.
No more old wine in new bottles
Some Member States continue to promote the idea of a mandatory border procedure in non-papers and other informal contributions. Extrapolating from these documents and debates, the potential border instrument would combine the worst and most controversial elements of the 2016 CEAS reform package, pulling together parts of the Asylum Procedures Regulation, Dublin IV and recast Return Directive. The procedure would be applied to all persons who arrive in the EU to seek protection and would lead to a massive expansion of detention centres at the borders.