Ahead of the European Council meeting in Brussels on 17-18 March 2016, the European Humanist Federation calls on the Council to fully respect its human rights commitments and to open safe ways to Europe for asylum seekers.
Refugees and migrants are first and foremost human beings who hold human rights and should be treated as such. Moreover, we believe that they do not only contribute economically and demographically to our societies, they also bring with them new cultures and traditions that make the European society rich and diverse.
According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the number of people who have fled Syria is “the biggest refugee population from a single conflict in a generation”.
It is estimated that around 4.8 million people have left, and millions more are internally displaced. These refugees, including many children, have fled the indiscriminate attacks by Government forces on civilian residential areas; they have fled IS controlled zones, where IS enforce their strict interpretation of Islamic law, carrying out frequent public executions, including of those accused of apostasy, adultery or because of their real or perceived sexual orientation.
Europe can not turn a blind eye on them.
Yet those who survive the dangerous journey to Europe, with the hope that they will be greeted as human beings worthy of dignity and respect, are instead at times being met with attacks from far-right activists, alongside the rise of populist politics and xenophobia.
There are an estimated 26,000 unaccompanied children in Europe alone, who are vulnerable to trafficking, prostitution, and child labour.
All European Member States are committed by European and international human rights intruments to respect the human rights of all human beings, including refugees and migrants.
We fully support the eight key actions for refugee protection put forward by Amnesty International at the UN Human Rights Council to pressure all EU States to live up to their duties under the UN Convention on Refugees and the European human rights framework.
Europe should not abandon its values by shamingly trading people against money as it is about to do with Turkey, a country with a poor human rights record. The EHF therefore calls on the European Coucil to make a radical shift in its approach of the refugees crisis.