European Council meeting : 150 NGOs urge EU leaders to stop violating migrants rights


(Brussels, Paris) On the occasion of the 9 and 10 March European Council meeting, the FIDH, together with more than 150 non-governmental organizations adressed to the Heads of State and Government a joint statement calling for the end of the xenophobic migration policies of the EU. The appeal urges EU leaders to take actions in favor of the respect of migrants and refugees rights instead of pushing them into danger.

To the Heads of State and Governement of the Member States of the European Union,

We are civil society organisations, which are supported, collectively, by hundreds of thousands of people across Europe, working with those less fortunate to alleviate poverty, provide essential aid and defend people’s rights.

With xenophobic populism on the rise across Europe and the globe, this is an appeal for leadership to uphold the rights and values that have been founding principles of the European Union for 60 years.

Together, we need to prevent legitimate concerns about migration management from being hijacked and used to derail the European project.

On a daily basis, we witness widespread solidarity with people who are fleeing brutal wars, persecution, human rights violations, instability, and extreme poverty. Throughout Europe and the world, we see people welcome refugees and migrants into their communities, open up their homes and donate money, materials and time to help. Only this week, many of them travelled to Brussels to call on you to uphold your commitments to relocate asylum seekers from Greece and “Bring Them Here”. We also hear people expressing their concerns about the future, asking their governments to show leadership and respond to the arrival of large numbers of people.

We take pride in the European commitment to international law and human rights and we look to you to foster and promote this commitment at home and abroad. Yet when increasing numbers of people in need arrived in the summer of 2015, Europe failed to come together and respond with humanity, dignity, and solidarity. To this day, European nations are unwilling to respond in line with their obligations under international and European law, defaulting to responses that keep people far away and out of sight.

We hear you repeating your commitment to European values – respect for human dignity, liberty, democracy, equality, the rule of law and human rights. But we expect to see them in your actions, too.

Too many leaders have been preoccupied with stopping people from reaching Europe, at the risk of reducing access to protection for those who need it the most.

You have the responsibility to manage migration in a fair manner that addresses the legitimate concerns of citizens. It must be principled and based on facts, not on populist rhetoric. Strength doesn’t mean turning away those most in need. Strength is about showing a way forward that upholds values.

Further, if the EU and its member states want to remain credible international actors, they cannot expect countries like Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon to host millions of refugees, while simultaneously pushing migrants and refugees back at EU borders, stranding thousands in inhumane living conditions on the Greek islands, or pushing them back into an uncontrolled conflict zone like Libya. Your decisions have life and death consequences, and if you continue to lower standards, countries around the globe will follow suit.

Instead of countering the rise of xenophobic populists, Europe’s response has too often been to copy their recipes. But an approach based on deterrence and border closures cannot override an effective long-term policy.

We expect statesmanship that stands up for humanity and dignity and that addresses people’s fears, instead of fuelling them. We expect sustainable, long-term migration policies that guarantee respect for people’s rights rather than pushing them into danger. These include expanding safe and regular pathways to Europe, such as humanitarian and other visas, increasing resettlement spaces and improving access to family reunification schemes, as well as improving worker mobility across skill levels. Other global concerns such as conflict and instability, poverty, inequality and climate change must remain at the top of the European agenda.

You and your governments must assess the impact of your policies on the human rights and living conditions of women, men and children on the move, as well as Europe’s long standing commitment to uphold these rights and improve the lives of people everywhere.

On the brink of the European Union’s 60th anniversary we ask you to show solidarity, respect for humanity and dignity, and responsibility. We ask you to be truly inspiring leaders for the future. Our commitment to the European Union’s core values cannot falter. Only a Europe that really stands by its values can be a strong and credible leader in a world shaken by increasing populism and so-called alternative facts.

European history is full of people who were forced to flee their homes due to war and persecution. The work European nations have done to develop and protect the rights of people over the last 70 years cannot be lost. Only a Europe that defends the rights of everyone, without exception, is a Europe we can be proud of.

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  • Co-signatories

    1. Fundación Atabal
    2. A Proposito di Altri Mondi Onlus
    3. ACAT 
    4. ACF
    5. ACRA
    6. ACT Alliance EU
    7. Action Against Hunger
    8. ActionAid Italy
    9. ADP Amici dei Popoli
    10. African Media Association Malta
    11. Agir Ensemble pour les Droits de l’Homme
    12. AI.BI. Amici dei Bambini
    13. AIDOS
    14. Albanian Human Rights Group (AHRG)
    15. AMERA International
    16. Amnesty International
    17. Anna Lindh National Network in Finland
    18. AOI – Associazione Organizzazioni Italiane cooperazione e solidarietà internazionale
    19. Arsis
    20. ASGi - Associazione Studi Giuridici Immigrazione
    21. Asociacion en Prevencion y Asistencia de la Violencia APAV
    22. Asociación pro derechos humanos de España (APDHE)
    23. ASPEm Onlus
    24. Associació Salut i Família
    25. Association Européenne pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme
    26. Associaton for Integration and Migration (SIMI)
    27. Associazione K_Alma
    28. ASTI - Association de Soutien aux Travailleurs Immigrés
    29. Austrian Red Cross
    30. Care International
    31. CARITAS - Luxembourg 
    32. Caritas Europa
    33. CEFA Onlus
    34. CEFIS 
    35. CELIM
    36. Centar za integraciju mladih
    37. Centro per la Formazione alla Solidarietà Internazionale
    38. Cercle de Coopération 
    39. CESVI
    40. CIAI
    41. CICSENE
    42. CIES
    43. CIRÉ (coordination et initiatives pour réfugiés et étrangers)
    44. CISV Onlus
    45. Civic Committee for Human Rights from Croatia (CCHR)
    46. CLAE 
    47. CODE - Coordination des ONG pour les droits de l’enfant
    48. COMI
    49. Comitato Collaborazione Medica CCM
    50. Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ)
    51. Concord Italia
    52. CONCORD Sweden
    53. Consejo de la Juventud de España
    54. Consortium of Migrants Assisting Organizations in the Czech Republic
    55. Consorzio Ong Piemontesi COP
    56. Coordinamento Italiano NGO Internazionali
    57. Cordaid
    58. COSPE Onlus
    59. CrEA Onlus
    60. CVM Comunità Volontari per il Mondo
    61. Danish Refugee Council
    62. Detention Action
    63. Diaconia - Center of Relief and Development
    64. DNK - German National Committee for International Youth Work
    65. Doras
    66. Dorcas Aid International
    67. Dutch Council for Refugees
    68. Dutch League for Human Rights (DLHR)
    70. EU-CORD
    71. EuroMed Rights
    72. European Evangelical Alliance
    73. European Non-Governmental Sports Organisation ENGSO Youth
    74. European Youth Forum
    75. Federación de Asociaciones para la Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos España
    76. FIDH
    77. Finnish League for Human Rights (FLHR)
    78. Finnish Lutheran Overseas Mission
    79. Finnish Refugee Council
    80. FMSI
    81. FOCSIV – Federazione Organismi Cristiani Servizio Internazionale Volontario
    82. Fondazione Fontana
    83. Generation 2.0 for Rights ,Equality and Diversity
    84. GVC
    85. Habitat for Humanity International, Europe, Middle East and Africa
    86. Handicap International
    87. Hellenic League for Human Rights (HLHR)
    88. Human Rights Watch
    89. International Aid Services
    90. International Association For Refugees
    91. International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims
    92. International Rescue Committee
    93. International Young Naturefriends - IYNF
    94. INTERSOS
    95. IPSIA
    96. Islamic Relief UK
    97. JRS
    98. JRS Belgium
    99. KISA - Action for Equality, Support, Antiracism
    100. Kopin
    101. La Strada International
    102. Federació catalana
    103. Latin American Wome’s Rights Service (LAWRS) - UK
    104. Latvian Human Rights Committee (LHRC)
    105. Le Monde des Possibles ASBL
    106. Legambiente
    107. LIDU - Lega italiana dei Diritti dell’Uomo
    108. Ligue des Droits de l’homme en Belgique (LDH)
    109. Ligue suisse des droits de l’homme (LSDH)
    110. Link2007 – Cooperazione in rete
    111. LVIA
    112. Macedonian Young Lawyers Association
    113. MANI TESE
    114. Marche solidali – coordinamento organizzazioni marchigiane di cooperazione e solidarietà internazionale
    115. Menedek - Hungarian Association for Migrants
    116. Migrant Rights Centre Ireland
    117. Missing Children Europe
    118. Movimento Shalom onlus
    119. Naga
    120. Nasc, the Irish Immigrant Support Centre
    121. Norwegian Centre against Racism
    122. One Third Sweden
    123. ONG para el Desarrollo
    124. Osservatorio AIDS
    125. Overseas
    126. Oxfam
    127. Pax for Peace
    128. PICUM
    129. Platform Kinderen op de vlucht – Plate-forme Mineurs en exil
    130. Polish Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights
    131. Polish Migration Forum
    132. Polish Society of Anti-Discrimination Law (PSAL)
    133. Pro asyl
    134. PRO.DO.C.S.
    135. ProgettoMondo Mlal
    136. Rainbow for Africa
    137. Red Acoge
    138. Save the Children
    139. Secours Islamique France
    140. SKOP - The National Platform of Maltese Development NGOs
    141. SONIA per un Mondo Nuovo e Giusto
    142. SPARK15
    143. stichting LOS (National Support Organisation for the Undocumented)
    144. Stichting Vluchteling
    145. Swedish Refugee Advice Centre
    146. Terra Nuova
    147. Terre des Hommes
    148. The Finnish NGDO Platform to the EU Kehys
    149. The Migrants’ Rights Network
    150. Trócaire
    151. U.V.I.S.P.-ASSISI
    152. United Protestant Church in Belgium
    153. Welthungerhilfe
    154. WeWorld
    155. with the support of CONCORD Europe
    156. World Vision

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