(Issue Wed 21st Dec 2023) Yesterday, 20th Dec after three years of negotiation, the European Commission, Council of the EU, and European Parliament agreed on a set of reforms for Migration and Asylum processes, known as the New Pact on Migration and Asylum.
The agreement has prompted concern within the global humanitarian community about the potential threat to safety, humanity, and the rights of individuals seeking refuge across European borders posed by these new reforms. This worry is magnified when considering the significant scale of conflict and disaster in 2023 alone, which has forced millions from their homes. According to a UNHCR report, at the end of June 2023, 110 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced from their homes due to persecution, conflict, violence, and human rights-related violations.
The Pact, thought to mark “a fresh start” for EU asylum and migration policy, raised alarms, with Mary Van Lieshout, Director of External Relations, GOAL, commenting,
“The recent accord between the European Parliament and the Council highlights changes that may exacerbate the ongoing humanitarian crisis for millions forced to leave their homes, particularly women and children, who bravely seek safety in Europe. This agreement missed the chance for meaningful responsibility sharing. Instead, it emphasises intensified border controls, jeopardising the protection of these vulnerable communities.”
- GOAL stands by the fundamental right to seek asylum, supporting refugees fleeing persecution or harm and ensuring international protection. Seeking asylum is a fundamental right enshrined in the 1951 Refugee Convention and Article 18 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. GOAL supports the freedom of refugees and internally displaced people to seek asylum, regardless of their place of origin.
- GOAL promotes and defends the principle of non-refoulement as a fundamental right for refugees and asylum-seekers. This principle ensures that individuals fearing for their lives or freedoms cannot be forcibly returned to places where they face serious harm.
- GOAL advocates for a focus on the well-being and protection of refugees, including the critical need for safety, security, and access to services. Refugee protection, to us, means fostering an environment that upholds human dignity and prevents abuse.
- Since 2017, GOAL has advocated for the liberalisation of EU refugee policy, emphasising respect for refugees’ fundamental rights, including asylum, upholding human dignity, and protection from abuse. If the EU is to stay true to its core values and human rights principles, it must ensure human rights are offered to all.
“We remain committed to addressing the urgent challenges faced by communities forced to cross borders, embarking on perilous journeys, and relying on the compassion of safer societies for refuge. GOAL consistently witnesses the dire circumstances of refugees from fragile and conflict-affected countries like Syria, Sudan, Ukraine, Haiti, and others enduring the hardships of conflict. The impending reforms will significantly impact the lives of these individuals seeking critical and life-saving refuge”, concluded Mary Van Lieshout, Director of External Relations, GOAL.