For a human asylum policy

Naturefriends demand a human European asylum policy instead of further refugee camps on the territory of the European Union.

September 2020

The lack of a clear European asylum policy has led to an inhuman praxis of locking refugees into camps in countries at the borders of the European Union. In theory, people should wait there for the decision on their asylum application which would allow them to enter the European Union, but also could reject their request. Countries such as Greece or Italy are extremely overstrained with this task. The consequence are huge, massively overcrowded camps with unacceptable health conditions and a lack of perspective for the people staying there. It has been known since months that these camps are a kind of time bomb – some politicians even took it into account intentionally as a deterrent measure against potential refugees.

One of these camps is Moria on the Greek island of Lesbos, which most recently housed over 12,500 refugees – a place that was not suitable for a longer stay as it offered neither acceptable living conditions nor prospects for the future. After the devastating fire on 8 th September 2020 more than 12,500 people including children, pregnant women and people with special needs have lost their shelter. People who fled because of insecure or dangerous conditions in their countries and had to leave their families, friends, and homes. People who have already lost everything are now suffering from the consequences of a failed asylum policy of the European Union and its Member States which contradicts human and children’s rights.

Instead of criminalizing the victims of the fire all EU member states must be aware that their failure in realising a human and fair procedure to deal with refugees is the reason for this sad development. Now we have reached a point, where we cannot close our eyes any longer. Concrete action is immediately needed – to support the refugees at Lesbos but also to prevent even greater humanitarian catastrophes in the future. It is time to show solidarity with people fleeing wars, dictatorships, and terrible poverty and to act in accordance with our commitment for a more united and inclusive Europe.

Many European cities and some member states have already declared to take over some of the now completely unsheltered people of Moria. Others have declared to support Greece in the re-erection of a new camp. Both measures are helpful to overcome the most urgent needs but will not solve the refugee crisis.

Naturefriends International and International Young Naturefriends urge the European Union and its member states to put in place a new human asylum policy avoiding further camps with inhuman living conditions and without any perspective for the people placed there.

A new asylum policy should include at least the following cornerstones:

  • A decentralized approach accepting the offers of different cities and countries overcoming the so-called Dublin-regime. To motivate cities and countries to overtake refugees the costs for the period of checking the asylum application should be covered by a European asylum budget. Municipalities, companies, and NGOs should be invited to offer projects for assisting refugees in this pre-asylum stage.
  • Suitable living conditions for all refugees and mandatory offers for language training and other training courses which enhance their skills and offer them new perspectives either for their future life in a European country or for a return back home in case the asylum is not granted.