The EU is failing refugees, Amnesty International says

The European Union flag fly amongst European Union member countries' national flags in front of the European Parliament. Credit: Getty Images
The European Union flag fly amongst European Union member countries’ national flags in front of the European Parliament.
Credit: Getty Images

A rapid escalation in refugee numbers and a failure to accommodate them is the biggest threat to human rights in the world, Amnesty International claimed in its 2013 report.

Over seven million Syrians have been displaced since the conflict began in 2011, more than a quarter of the population, Amnesty found, often living in desperate conditions. This coincides with 200,000 new refugees from Mali, around 140,000 from Myanmar, large numbers of Somalis, and the ever-growing communities of displaced Palestinians.

Amnesty’s Secretary General Salil Shetty slammed developed nations for ignoring the crisis. “The EU won the Nobel Peace Prize but is failing to keep even its minimum commitment to refugees,” he told Metro.

The EU has a commitment to resettle 5,500 refugees per year but Amnesty claim it has accommodated far less, compared to poorer nations such as Jordan receiving 2,000 each day. This stance has led to desperate attempts and many migrants dying in attempted illegal entries. Amnesty is demanding the EU increase its intake to 20,000 per year.

Shetty blamed an austerity era culture of “scapegoating refugees”. He called on leaders to “challenge prejudice, rather than blaming refugees for crime, healthcare and unemployment problems”.

Failure to support migrants is boosting criminal gangs, such as through human trafficking. Crime is also supported by long-term temporary settlements, with such camps around the world found to have high rates of sexual violence.

Husan Helmi, a Syrian activist whose family was displaced, said “there is no safety or protection in the camps”. He added that disease was rife and it is a struggle to secure basic foodstuffs.

Amnesty warned that desperate refugees will take greater risks and more tragedies should be expected unless developed nations make greater commitments.


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