To Heads of European states, Charles Michel, President of the European Council, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission,
We stand in solidarity with people in Ukraine and all those who are forced to leave their homes as a result of this conflict. History and the present have proven countless times that those most impacted by war are civilians.
We welcome the support given to Ukrainian citizens fleeing the Russian conflict, in particular the immediate and swift application of protection procedures and freedom of movement across the EU.
While millions of refugees from Ukraine have been welcomed with open arms, people from Asian and African countries are met at Europe’s borders with violence and inhuman treatment. From Greece to Spain to Poland to Lithuania, people seeking sanctuary face pushbacks, detention, appalling living conditions, lack of access to basic services, and legal limbo.
Europe’s border regime represents a bridge to safety for Ukrainians. Yet for other refugees it looks like walls, fences and prison-like camps. The supportive stance taken by both governments and citizens towards welcoming people seeking sanctuary shows that positive and community-based responses to migration can be implemented again.
We call on the EU and all European countries to use the response to this current situation as an example to further discussion on what a common and fair asylum system in Europe could look like, and how this could be achieved for all individuals seeking safety in practice.
1. Protection for all and access to asylum for all. The European Union and all states in Europe must protect the fundamental right to seek asylum and ensure that all people seeking sanctuary, regardless of their origin or the conflict they flee, can receive protection and safety. The same standards must be applied for all. Any action to prevent or stop the arrival of people seeking sanctuary is a violation of that right.
2. European solidarity and relocation. After the failure of the EU to put in place a strong and fair solidarity mechanism in 2015 and 2016, this is an opportunity to develop swift relocation from border regions to European cities and communities for people who cross the EU borders.
3. Dignified reception conditions. All European States must ensure dignified reception and living conditions, and prevent or close prison-like facilities surrounded by barbed wire and walls. Refugees should instead be welcomed by those cities and communities that have pledged to do so.
4. Power to the cities. Hundreds of municipalities across Europe have pledged to welcome asylum seekers and refugees. States must acknowledge the key role played by municipalities and communities in developing welcoming, humane, and sustainable reception and integration solutions as an alternative to refugee camps.
5. Safe and legal routes. The human tragedy in Ukraine shows the urgent need for safe and legal pathways for people to enter our countries to seek international protection. People who are forced to migrate will continue to do so. An approach focused on strong borders and deterrence will only make migrants‘ trajectories more dangerous.
We await the response of the Presidents of the European Council and Commission as well as the Heads of European States to this petition. We remain united in the belief that all asylum seekers and refugees have the right to a dignified and humane welcome and legal and safe ways to reach safety.
Please join us in demanding that Europe Must Act and sign the petition.
List of co-signees
Actions de Solidarité pour les Réfugiés
Aegean Boat Report
All Included Amsterdam
Catch a smile
Ecopolis - a parallel city
Europeans for Humanity
Fenix Legal Aid
kein mensch ist illegal Hanau
Kiron Open Higher Education
Legal Centre Lesvos
Mare Liberum e.V.
Minority Rights Group
Northern Lights Aid
RAD Music International
Refugee Legal Support
Rethinking Refugees (Krakow, PL)
Samos Advocacy Collective
Sienos grupė (eng. Border group)
Théâtre le Levain
Walk of Shame EU
We Gaan Ze Halen / Let's Bring Them here
Wir packen's an e.V.
Koster (S&D Germany, member of the LIBE Committee)
Maria Arena (S&D Spain, chair of the Human Rights Committee)
If your group would like to co-sign the petition please fill out the following Google-form: Co-Sign Petition Form
Europe Must Act is a growing grassroots movement that brings together volunteers, people on the move and NGOs campaigning to end human rights abuses at our borders and increase relocation within Europe. The heart of our campaign work is our City and National Chapters who carry out local actions across Europe as well as grassroots advocacy at our borders.
Image Credit: Yorgos Konstantinou