On this International Migrants Day, Eurodiaconia asks the European Union, its Member States, and other countries in Europe to step up their commitments to legal pathways for migration, including through voluntary resettlement, humanitarian corridors, community sponsorship, and by supporting social services that assist in migrants integration 1.
Instead of treating migrants as a security threat and spending millions of euros on border surveillance and security, investment should be put into people, through the implementation of transparent and dignified asylum procedures, safe accommodation, provision of necessary goods and services, and assistance to successfully integrate into European society.
2021 has been a year marked by crisis within and outside of the EU, leading to high numbers of refugees and migrants attempting to make their way to safety in Europe. Recent reports of deaths at the European Union’s borders, the experience of vulnerable families with children facing hunger and cold weather, and violent pushbacks, are not in line with international and European law and do not reflect the values held by the majority of people on the European continent. We must see a swift response by European institutions to fundamental rights violations, including mistreatment of refugees at the border, and unwarranted derogations from EU and international law by individual Member States.
Eurodiaconia is a network organisation comprised of 54 members in 32 European countries providing social services. Eurodiaconia members have witnessed this crisis unfolding and have continued to meet the varied needs of migrants all over Europe. Our French member Fédération de l’Entraide Protestante (FEP) was recently able to resume their humanitarian corridors project 2, our member Diakonia Poland is currently providing emergency assistance to migrants at their border 3, and our Greek member Apostoli is continuing their work providing services, psychological support, and assistance to refugees and unaccompanied minor refugees 4. Many of our members across Europe support asylum seekers and migrants by providing access to legal assistance, accommodation, and other social services.
Several of our members are involved in humanitarian corridors and community sponsorship programmes that seek to provide safe avenues for migration for those who face danger and insecurity in their home countries. These programmes require the commitment and cooperation of Member States and actors from the EU to the local level. After the success of many pilot projects in Europe in recent years, these programmes require increased funding and government support to grow successfully and sustainably. Eurodiaconia therefore calls for the European Commission and Member States to dedicate funding and support to these programmes and to uphold resettlement pledges.
There is an urgent need to ensure that EU asylum law – in particular respecting the right to apply for asylum and have a fair procedure – is respected across all Member States, with an end to pushbacks of asylum seekers. Furthermore, more safe and humane avenues for migrants and refugees to Europe should be provided. As the fallout of this year’s crises will continue to reverberate throughout the coming years, Eurodiaconia urges the EU and Member States to take concrete steps to protect refugees and migrants through expansion and financing of resettlement programmes, humanitarian corridors, and community sponsorship.