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More solidarity and humanity in dealing with refugees

World Refugee Day – Declaration by the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons

On 20 June each year, World Refugee Day allows us to take stock of the situation of refugees in Europe and, in the current context, of progress achieved and setbacks encountered in addressing the current crisis. It is also an opportunity to remind states of their obligations to provide international protection to those in need.

While the vast majority of the over 50 million refugees worldwide remain outside Europe, our continent has recently been confronted with increased flows of refugees who leave their homes and livelihoods to flee conflicts. All countries in Europe have been affected, with Turkey taking the brunt of arrivals with an estimated 3 million refugees coming mainly from Syria and Iraq. Over 1 million people sought asylum In other European countries in 2015, one-third of whom were children. For the moment there is no foreseeable end to the extreme violence and complexity of these conflicts, so European countries must unite in their efforts to find coordinated, efficient and lasting responses to the ongoing situation.

Council of Europe member States must ensure the right to human dignity for all those within their territories. They must implement fully the provisions of the Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees. As European citizens, we must all continue to resist xenophobic and hostile attitudes and promote global humanitarian action. Europe has the means and the capacity to provide humanitarian assistance and offer integration to the refugees who seek its protection, if each member country takes its share of responsibility.

Therefore, the Parliamentary Assembly’s Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons calls upon Council of Europe member States to show more solidarity and humanity in dealing with refugees, and to ensure adequate reception facilities and access to a fair and effective asylum procedure. Particular attention should be paid to the rights of children - the Committee calls on all member States to join the Parliamentary Campaign to End Immigration Detention of Children.

It also calls upon them to further improve the integration of refugees, including recognition of vocational experience and qualifications as well as access to education, employment and social services.