“The right to family life applies to everyone, including refugees and migrants,” said the Migration Committee, which called on member States to “develop common guidelines” to implement the right to family reunification. “Families must not be torn apart and they should not be prevented from reuniting after an often dangerous departure from their country of origin,” the parliamentarians said, approving the report by Ulla Sandbæk (Denmark, UEL).
“I welcome the very humane approach towards the care of migrant children, who are also provided with psychological support and education, said Pierre-Alain Fridez (Switzerland, SOC), General Rapporteur on the Parliamentary Campaign to End Immigration Detention of Children, ending a visit to two shelters for unaccompanied migrant children, operated by SOS Children’s Villages in Greece on 23 July.
Mr Fridez, who was heading a parliamentary delegation, commended SOS Children’s Villages Greece for their work in upholding the human rights and best interests of migrant children.
“The situation for asylum seekers continues to be appalling in the Greek Reception and Identification Centre at Moria on the island of Lesbos, which houses 7500 people at present,” said Petra De Sutter (Belgium, SOC) who visited Athens, Kavala, Drama and Lesbos from 10 to 12 July for the preparation of her future PACE report on “Greek islands: more needs to be done.
Europe is a destination for people seeking international protection or a better life, due to wars, political turmoil and the poverty affecting its neighbouring regions. This inflow adds to the migrants and refugees who have already settled in Europe. At the same time, populists question Europe’s capacity to absorb a greater number of migrants and refugees, as well as the latter’s willingness to integrate.
Council of Europe member States should put the protection of human life above all other considerations during sea rescues, regardless of the status of those involved, PACE has said after a major triple debate in Strasbourg on the migration and refugee crisis.
PACE has said that greater financial support from the international community for refugees in the countries neighbouring Syria is “indispensable”, while calling on these countries to maintain an “open-door” policy.
Approving a resolution based in a report by Manlio di Stefano (Italy, NR), the Assembly pointed out that over 5.3 million Syrian refugees were now living in neighbouring states of Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq, placing these countries under “enormous strain”.
Doris Fiala (Switzerland, ALDE), Chairperson of the PACE Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons, has commended Spain for its offer to open the port of Valencia to the Aquarius, now drifting in the Mediterranean sea with 629 migrants on board rescued from Libya’s coast, including over 120 unaccompanied minors as well as other children and several pregnant women.
“I am dismayed at the Turkish authorities’ announcement that its readmission agreement with Greece has been suspended, following the release from custody in Greece of Turkish soldiers seeking asylum in Greece. This decision shows that migration deals put refugees at risk of being used as an instrument in political conflicts. I call upon all parties in this conflict to give priority to the interests and rights of the refugees” said Tineke Strik (Netherlands, SOC), PACE rapporteur on the human rights impact of the external dimension of European Union asylum and migration policy.
Recalling that, as a general principle under international law, persons should apply for refugee status in the first safe country of arrival and that any country of first arrival must receive and duly process such applications, PACE’s Migration Committee has called on Council of Europe member States to allow applications for asylum from outside the country “as an exceptional measure on humanitarian grounds”.
PACE’s Migration Committee has urged the EU or individual states making agreements with third countries for “external” border control or asylum processing to ensure that they guarantee human rights.
In a resolution based on a report by Tineke Strik (Netherlands, SOC), the committee said that these externalisation policies had been introduced “without due regard for the need to ensure that their implementation does not jeapardise human rights”.
PACE’s Migration Committee has said that greater financial support from the international community for refugees in the countries neighbouring Syria is “indispensable”, while calling on these countries to maintain an “open-door” policy.
Approving a report by Manlio di Stefano (Italy, NR) during a meeting in Paris, the committee pointed out that over 5.3 million Syrian refugees were now living in neighbouring states of Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq, placing these countries under “enormous strain”.
PACE has urged Council of Europe member States to provide free schooling for all migrant children, in line with their international undertakings, and to treat them in the same way as other children for educational purposes.
“Education is a powerful tool for integration of migrants and refugees and for the empowerment of young people destabilised by situations for which they are not responsible,” the Assembly declared in a resolution adopted on the basis of a report by Petra De Sutter (Netherlands, SOC).
Joint press release from UNHCR and the Council of Europe
European Qualifications Passport for Refugees: integration through education and employment
Strasbourg/Athens, 27.03.2018 - Since the beginning of what is often referred to as the refugee crisis in Europe, the recognition of refugees’ qualifications has become one of the main tools to integrate them into European societies.
At its meeting in Amman, the Migration Committee expressed its deep concern at member States’ failure to respect their undertakings with regard to education for migrant children, and stressed the urgent need to provide “efficient educational programs", as well as appropriate infrastructures and teaching resources.
Within Europe, more than four million persons are displaced inside their own country due to armed conflicts and violence. And their humanitarian needs and rights, PACE Committee on Migration said today, need greater attention and concerted efforts to reduce their suffering.
“The situation in Syria has severely deteriorated to the extent that the UN Secretary General has described it as ‘hell on earth’ and, on the political front, the international community has failed to achieve a political solution,” said Dora Bakoyannis (Greece, EPP/CD), speaking today in the framework of the preparation of a report on the issue, at the opening of a hearing on the situation in Syria and its effects upon surrounding countries, organised in Paris by the Political Affairs Committee.
Introduction and overview of activities
The Secretary General appointed me to be his Special Representative on Migration and Refugees as of 1 February 2016. I am the first person to hold the post, the creation of which was announced in December 2015. My first mandate was for two years; a second two-year mandate has recently been agreed.
Two rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) have reacted strongly to the humanitarian tragedy unfolding in Syria’s Eastern Goutha, on the day the UN Security Council meets to discuss the situation.
“Europe should play a major role in the sponsorship and resumption of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process,” said PACE today, at the end of a plenary debate. The Assembly considers that it is the responsibility of the international community, including the Council of Europe, to create the proper conditions to attain this goal.
PACE therefore will continue to promote dialogue between representatives of the Knesset and the Palestinian National Council – in particular in the framework of the Sub-Committee on the Middle East and the Arab World – making available its own experience.