NGOs urge more robust protection of Syrian refugees in the EU and a strengthened protection space in the region

by zoejardiniere

26.10.2012 ECRE, Amnesty International and the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME) have appealed to the EU Presidency in a letter to take urgent steps to provide practical assistance to refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria.

The letter argues that a common approach across the EU Member States is needed for the handling of Syrian asylum applicants to ensure that effective and equivalent protection is granted to Syrian refugees wherever they apply in the EU.  It calls for the relaxation of cumbersome regulations in order to facilitate access to protection for Syrians and notes concern over reports that refugees may be turned away at EU external borders and thus prevented from accessing the asylum process. Similarly it is imperative that the EU ensures that nobody is returned against their will to Syria; failed asylum seekers should not be returned until the situation in Syria has stabilised and durable return is feasible.

The letter also highlights the particularly vulnerable situation of non-Syrian recognised refugees in Syria, particularly for the non-Iraqi refugees living in Damascus and other urban centres, and urges EU member states to provide resettlement places for these people in their territories.

Finally, financial as well as practical assistance to the neighbouring countries, who are hosting thousands of Syrians fleeing, is still desperately needed in order to cover emergency needs but also maintain the protection space’.

The Council of Europe Justice and Home Affairs meeting taking place in Luxembourg on Thursday 25 and Friday 26 October has been discussing the issue. The Council unanimously welcomed the Commission’s proposal to establish a Regional Protection Programme (RPP) with the goal of supporting Syria and its neighbours in setting up durable capacities for coping with the crisis in the longer term.

At this same meeting, the Council was briefed on the progress of the Greek National Action Plan for Asylum Reform and Migration Management and adopted the recast of the amended Reception Conditions Directive.

ECRE thinks that the agreement reached on the recast represents a missed opportunity to make detention of asylum seekers truly exceptional. Indeed, the fact that Member States will not be required to provide for the automatic judicial review of detention in combination with the very broad grounds for detention means that the Directive allows for the systematic and arbitrary detention of asylum seekers.

For further information:

–         ECRE comments and recommendations on the amended proposal for a recast of the Reception Conditions Directive

–                     Press release from the Cypriot Presidency on the JHA meeting

–                     Press release from the Council on the JHA meeting

–                     Amended proposal for a recast of the Reception Conditions Directive

–                     Information from the Commission on Regional Protection Programmes

–                     Amnesty International expresses alarm at attempt by UKBA to return a political activist asylum seeker to Syria

–                     ECRE’s campaign to end the detention of children for immigration purposes