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Refugee crisis: the EU asylum policies are inadequate, a committee says

The Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), meeting in Paris today adopted the following statement:

“The Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons expressed its deep concern at the growing refugee and migration crisis in Europe.

Europe is faced with the biggest influx of refugees and migrants since World War II.

According to the latest figures from UNHCR, since the beginning of 2015 alone, more than 310 000 people have arrived in Italy and Greece across the Mediterranean. To this figure should be added over 100 000 people who continue to arrive in Hungary and Bulgaria through the Western Balkans. More than 2 600 others have lost their lives in the sea. The reception capacities of countries like Greece, Italy or Turkey are overwhelmed. The majority of migrants who continue their journey to the north of Europe face chaotic circumstances and suffer indignity and danger.

The majority of those who arrive in Europe qualify for international protection under the Geneva Convention on refugees. They are fleeing armed conflicts and insecurity in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Eritrea and Libya. The global number of asylum applications being processed in Europe including those who arrived in previous years to European countries exceeds 800 000. Another 2 million Syrian refugees remain in Turkey.

The present crisis has clearly demonstrated the inadequacy of the current political and institutional instruments and procedures including the Dublin Regulation on which the asylum policies of the European Union are based. The fragmented generous approach of governments and citizens cannot substitute the need for a common and comprehensive European response which would meet the obligations stated in international law, in particular those arising from the Geneva Convention on refugees, and at the same time would address the humanitarian and political consequences and causes of the present situation including long-term solutions in the countries of origin.

The committee welcomes the proposal of the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB) to create a new facility at the CEB to finance reception and transition centres in CEB member countries and calls all member states to contribute generously to this new facility.

The committee proposed to the Assembly to devote a whole sitting during the forthcoming parliamentary session to a current affairs debate on the need for “A Comprehensive humanitarian and political response to the migration and refugee crisis in Europe” followed by a joint debate on the Countries of transit (Rapporteur: Tineke Strik, Netherlands, SOC) and on the Dublin Regulation (Rapporteur: Michele Nicoletti, Italy, SOC)”.