Any deal to relocate some 40,000 asylum seekers across the European Union would only be a small step towards fixing a broken system, Amnesty International said ahead of this afternoon’s informal meeting of EU justice and home affairs ministers in Brussels.
Today’s meeting follows an EU-wide understanding reached in June and is aimed at having other EU Member States take a fairer share of the responsibility of handling asylum claims of those currently in Greece and Italy, where the vast majority of incoming asylum seekers arrive.
“It is good to see that EU leaders are finally inching towards an agreement on how to relocate the tens of thousands of asylum seekers who have reached European shores. But any deal must be accompanied by addressing the big picture – fixing the broken system that caused this situation in the first place,” said Gauri van Gulik, Amnesty International Deputy Europe and Central Asia Director.
“The EU must immediately put in place more safe and legal routes for those in need of protection, ease restrictions on freedom of movement of successful asylum seekers and significantly strengthen financial and operational assistance to frontline member states. .”
EU ministers are also set to discuss drawing up a possible list of “safe” countries of origin, meaning that asylum seekers from those states would face restrictions on their right to apply for asylum.
“The concept of a ‘safe country’ of origin is both absurd and dangerous. Asylum claims should be judged on an individual basis – any ‘safe country’ list could preclude whole groups of people from protection and cause them to be sent back to harm. Such discrimination could not only risk lives and safety, but is also against international law,” said Gauri van Gulik.