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Open Letter from Academics to Decision-Makers in the European Union and its Member States

This petition had 696 supporters


In face of the current humanitarian crisis that is unfolding in Europe, we as academics feel the need to address the EU, national representatives, and policy makers, in the hope of seeing positive changes in the policies of seeking asylum and mobility within Europe. As academics, activists, and legal practitioners have highlighted, the only way to stop the drowning deaths in the Mediterranean Sea, and elsewhere, is to open legal routes of entry to Europe for asylum seekers.

Whilst openness towards refugees in the receiving countries is crucial, we must be equally concerned with finding an immediate end to deaths at sea, and the European Union and its member states have the keys to stop this from happening. As of now, the EU’s visa regime has done its utmost to close all possible legal routes for entry and mobility. This only feeds into criminal activities, such as smuggling and human trafficking, that eventually lead to the deaths that now we witness on a daily basis. Images of refugees are pervasive on social media; these have been functional in opening conversations and debates among EU citizens. Now, we call for immediate changes in EU policies to address the concerns of EU citizens, and stop the deaths at sea and land caused by EU restrictions to access and mobility. As Euromed Rights puts it,

‘By framing a humanitarian pressing issue in security terms and refusing to offer legal safe channels to migrants and refugees, the EU evades its responsibility toward its plagued neighbours and woefully leaves men, women, and children perish in the sea’

Various NGOs and human rights organisations have been pressuring decision-makers for years to open legal routes of entry for asylum seekers, to ensure safe entry, and to halt the readmission agreements with unsafe states of origin. We feel the time has come to join forces and bring pressure from the academic community as well.

We urge attention to the following points[1]:


- Open legal and secure channels to all migrants, and ensure that refugees have access to the European territory where their individual situation can be assessed;


- Stop making access to the EU for non-EU nationals conditional upon the signature of readmission agreements by their country of origin, and stop using external cooperation as a means to reinforce border controls;

-Urgently prioritise search and rescue tasks over surveillance, and provide both financial and technical support to competent Search and Rescue (SAR) mechanisms and not to Frontex;


- Urgently activate the 2001 Directive on Temporary Protection, and address resettlement needs of refugees fleeing conflicts in the Middle East, particularly victims of the conflict in Syria, in sub-Saharan Africa, and everywhere else;


- Immediately revoke of the Dublin Regulation that is hindering mobility.


We would invite all academics who agree with the contents of this letter to add their name and institutional affiliation below. By the end of October we will contact key European news agencies and ask them to publish the letter. At that point, our signatures and press releases will be addressed to EU representatives and decision makers.

Please add your name and academic affiliation in the comment box.

 



[1] Some of these recommendations are made by the Euro-Mediterranen Human Rights Network (http://euromedrights.org/death-at-sea-no-more-excuses/), who have been working with the issue for several years, and whose claims are based on solid research.

 [2] While we are aware of some problems pertaining the political economy of change.org as a means to political activism, we have weighed the pros and cons of doing so, and realised the importance of having a workable platform to collect signatures – plenty of them we hope - across the world, before publishing the Open Letter elsewhere. Thus, even if in principle you would not sign petitions in change.org, we do hope you would make an exception this time trusting that we are making sure we protect our supporters from profit-making advertising companies by not engaging with ‘keep your supporters updated’ kind of activities, from which Change.org makes part of its profit. The organisers are willing to discuss technicalities further, if you wish so.  



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