Council of Europe and OSCE member states are being urged to abide by their international obligations towards refugees, and to “lead by example” in displaying greater solidarity towards persons fleeing armed conflicts, violence or persecution.
The call was issued by two leading members of the UK Parliament’s House of Lords following a web conference organised in London today to mark World Refugee Day (20 June 2021) and the 70th anniversary of the 1951 Refugee Convention.
In a “call to action” issued after the meeting, Lord Dundee (United Kingdom, EC/DA), Vice-Chair of the PACE Sub-Committee on Migrant Smuggling and Trafficking in Human Beings, and his fellow peer Lord Dubs, Vice-Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on Migration of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, said: “We cannot continue to let thousands of children, women and men perish each year trying to reach safety or in search of a better life.”
Council of Europe and OSCE member states were urged to “do their utmost to save lives at sea” through enhanced search and rescue operations, and to share more responsibility with countries on the front line of irregular arrivals and transit countries.
The call for action also urged prompt asylum decisions, alternatives so that those who cannot be returned to their home country “do not languish for years in return centres”, an end to pushbacks, special attention for vulnerable categories of migrants, and greater efforts to dismantle smuggling and trafficking networks.
Today’s web conference brought together representatives of governments, national parliaments, UN agencies and humanitarian organisations. Its findings will flow into the PACE report on voluntary relocations of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in need of humanitarian protection being prepared by Lord Dundee.