Brussels, Belgium, 16 September 2021 — Today 24 human rights organisations - including the International Rescue Committee, Red Cross Europe, Caritas Europa, Amnesty International, Oxfam and Human Rights Watch - are jointly calling on EU leaders to put refugee protection at the heart of their response to the escalating crisis in Afghanistan, and ensure that people are not forced to risk their lives on dangerous routes in search of protection.
The statement comes ahead of a new Resettlement Forum, planned for early October, in response to the mounting crisis faced by the people of Afghanistan. Its signatories urge EU leaders to take this opportunity to expand safe, legal pathways to protection - including through establishing an ambitious, bespoke resettlement programme to resettle Afghan refugees from neighbouring countries such as Iran and Pakistan.
The 24 organisations are calling for the EU and its member states to:
- Make concrete commitments towards a significantly expanded refugee resettlement scheme at the upcoming Resettlement Forum.
- Leverage all available pathways to secure Afghan refugees’ urgent access to protection.
- Uphold access to a fair and full asylum process for Afghan and other nationals in Europe, while supporting their inclusion, integration and participation in society.
Imogen Sudbery, the International Rescue Committee’s Executive Director of Policy & Advocacy, Europe, said:
“As the situation in Afghanistan deteriorates, it’s extremely disturbing that some EU leaders continue to stoke fears about a non-existent crisis at Europe’s borders. Today, 24 human rights organisations are joining forces to urge the EU to demonstrate humanitarian leadership by taking three key actions to provide a desperately-needed lifeline to the people of Afghanistan.
First, the upcoming Resettlement Forum presents a golden opportunity for EU leaders to step up and support the tens of thousands forced to leave Afghanistan. In addition to pledging to resettle at least 36,000 refugees in 2022 as we called for in July, the EU must seize this chance to create an additional, swift and bespoke EU-wide scheme to resettle Afghans from neighbouring states - including Iran and Pakistan, which currently host almost 90% of all displaced Afghans.
Second, while expanded refugee resettlement is critical, the EU can and must do more. The EU should use all available options to immediately bring people in need of protection to safety from Afghanistan - including using its full diplomatic leverage to facilitate evacuations, and widening the scope of family reunification.
Finally, while most refugees will remain in the region, those already in Europe or arriving at the EU’s borders must be protected and treated in a dignified, humane manner - regardless of how they got here. Any pushbacks or violations of the right to asylum must be promptly investigated and sanctioned. Meanwhile, all rejected asylum cases of Afghan nationals must be urgently reviewed, and deportations of Afghans to the region formally suspended.
This is no time for hysteria. It’s a moment for EU leaders to demonstrate that they have learnt from their past mistakes, and share - rather than shirk - their legal and moral responsibilities to offer refugees protection.”
Read the full statement here.
Full list of signatories:
- International Rescue Committee
- Caritas Europa
- International Catholic Migration Commission, Europe / SHARE Network
- Red Cross EU Office
- Action contre la Faim
- Amnesty International
- Child Circle
- Danish Refugee Council
- EuroMed Rights
- European Evangelical Alliance
- European Lawyers in Lesvos
- Human Rights Watch
- Irish Refugee Council
- Italian Federation of Christian Organisations for International Volunteer Service (FOCSIV)
- Jesuit Refugee Service Europe
- Kids in Need of Defense (KIND)
- Lesvos Solidarity
- Norwegian Refugee Council
- Refugees International
- Safe Passage International
- Save the Children
- SB Overseas
- Comisión Española de Ayuda al Refugiado (CEAR, Spanish Commission for Refugees)