The crisis of refugees and asylum-seekers in the Mediterranean caused by wars in the Middle East, the threat of Daesh and instability in Northern African countries, is putting the European Union to the test. Against this backdrop, the Council of Europe has repeatedly requested special protection for vulnerable people at risk on the basis of the non-discrimination principle. In particular the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), in its Recommendation no. 16 of 16th March 2016, has asked for protection of irregular migrants against discrimination.
Children, women and disabled people are the first victims of such events. 25% of the migrants and refugees who arrived by sea in 2015 are children and 17% women (UNHCR data). There are also numerous unaccompanied children, who have been separated from their families or were sent alone because they are more likely to be granted asylum.
While possible political solutions are being explored and security measures are implemented at the borders, humanitarian associations, NGOs, churches and other religious organisations, and private individuals have also increased their efforts and thus contributed to protecting many human lives by promoting self-financed rescue operations at sea; humanitarian corridors so that vulnerable people could reach Europe; urgent medical treatment; search operations to return the bodies of victims to their families; assistance in refugee camps; decentralised reception carried out by volunteers; assistance to unaccompanied minors.
The Parliamentary Assembly should explore how to support these efforts through appropriate policies, by coordinating the action of civil society and of institutions, circulating and implementing best practices and enhancing their effectiveness.