World Refugee Day: EU leaders must live up to their international obligations

(20 June 2016) On World Refugee Day, EPSU reaffirms that human beings are not tradable commodities, and that the right to safe haven is an international human right as laid down in the UN Refugee Convention that came out of Europe following the Second World War.

We repeat out rejection of the “one-in, one-out” deal struck between the EU and Turkey in March to deal with unprecedented numbers of refugees arriving in Europe. Whereas EU governments continue to uphold a no-border policy for wealthy tax avoiders that costs billions of Euros to society, they increasingly apply strict border rules on asylum seekers that cost the lives of people fleeing from war, persecution and hunger.

To pay third countries to keep refugees out of Europe is a breach of their fundamental human rights and a shocking attempt at outsourcing the EU’s asylum responsibilities. The EU-Turkey proposal has been condemned by trade unions, UNHCR, civil society organisations, several members of the European Parliament and most recently Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

Instead, European governments must speed up the resettlement and integration of refugees. This requires significant investment in public infrastructures to meet refugees’ needs in host member states. The recent ban by the French authorities of a UK trade union-backed aid convoy to refugees in Calais is yet another missed opportunity to show and practice solidarity with those who need it most.

EPSU urges the French authorities to lift the ban. At times when anti-migrant and -refugee politics are gaining ground across Europe, initiatives from individuals, organisations and trade unions that seek to uphold EU values of solidarity should be encouraged, not blocked.

We support the call by our global sister federation, PSI, to uphold the fundamental human right to safe haven for all refugees.