“We have failed to anticipate the massive arrival of migrants, and now that we are overwhelmed by its consequences and implications, we are bargaining like carpet-sellers about quotas and figures. Colleagues, we are talking about human lives. Providing shelter and support to those who flee conflict and extreme poverty is not only our moral duty, it is also our international obligation,” she stressed in a debate on “The moral and economic imperative for fairer, smarter and more humane migration”, organised by the IPU Assembly in Geneva on 18 October.
Urging her counterparts to show leadership by taking action at national and local levels, she presented an eight-point blueprint to address the migration crisis at a pan-European level:
1. We must raise awareness, initiate a comprehensive political debate and make governments aware of the gravity of the problem and the implications.
2. A strategic migration management policy is needed in each of our countries and at European level.
3. It will be difficult, but we have to tackle the root causes of refugee situations and irregular migration. Countries of origin need our help to build sustainable societies with accountable institutions and a strong rule of law.
4. Any person coming to our countries must enjoy the same rights and the same protection as we enjoy. We must be guided by the highest human rights standards, including those enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights.
5. Refugees and migrants have to become active members of our societies. We cannot afford to marginalise them and we cannot afford to treat them simply as temporary guests. Integration is a two-way process involving migrants and their host societies.
6. Education is one of the most important tools to promote integration and cohesion within our societies: we must help these newcomers, especially the young ones.
7. We must speak out against any type of discrimination, intolerance or xenophobia. This is all the more important as populist and extremist ideas are on the rise within our societies.
8. Think global, act local. As elected parliamentarians, we have to be active in the field, within our constituencies: talk to our citizens and reassure them, explain policy decisions, support grass-roots initiatives, especially in the field of integration and education.