EU borders: Stop exposing migrants to danger
(Brussels, 23 April 2013) Presenting a petition bearing over 70,000 signatures, Amnesty International will tomorrow urge the European Union and the governments of its 27 member states to stop exposing people to danger along Europe’s coasts and borders.
The appeal targets Members of the European Parliament, and challenges them to do their duty as watchdog, by holding governments and institutions to account for how they treat the migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers who arrive at EU frontiers.
“Tomorrow we're putting Europe to shame. Thousands of people throughout Europe have expressed their alarm at what’s happening almost invisibly along our borders” said Nicolas Beger, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office. “Borders are one of the few areas where EU countries can largely escape scrutiny. Migrants suffer the impact of being ‘out of sight, out of mind’.”
Every year, thousands of people set off on perillous journeys in unseaworthy boats, hoping to reach Europe. Some are fleeing conflict, while others are escaping grinding poverty. Over the past decade European countries have increasingly focused on preventing people from even setting foot on EU territory.
Governments often resort to practices that force migrants to take dangerous routes to Europe, often with fatal consequences. For example, last month, six Syrians drowned when their boat foundered in the Aegean. Among them were a pregnant 17-year-old and a mother with her child.
By staging its symbolic action in front of the European Parliament, using an emblematic 'refugee' boat, Amnesty International will demand that the EU and the governments of its 27 members demonstrate far greater transparency and accountability over how they operate at Europe’s borders.