Thursday 22 February 2018

Human rights watchdog slams EU on migrant crisis

Wolfgang Schauble
Wolfgang Schauble

Amelia Ardennes

The Council of Europe has unleashed a blistering attack on European handling of the arrivals of migrants and asylum-seekers describing it as "disastrous".

The council's Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muiznieks yesterday demanded a new approach in a statement marking the UN's international day of human rights.

This year alone more than 3,600 persons, many of them women and children, lost their lives trying to reach safety and protection in Europe. He said that these people were asylum seekers or refugees who were entitled to feel that their lives mattered, but "Europe has let them down and continues to do so," he points out.

He appealed for an urgent change in policy saying: "the values and principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights will lose any meaning".

Given the scale of the crisis, he said: "The response adopted both by individual member states and by the EU has been by and large unsatisfactory."

Mr Muiznieks warned that: "we cannot tolerate this situation," which is "not different from that of our fathers and mothers" not so long ago.

He pleaded for countries to adopt a more humane approach.

Meanwhile in Brussels yesterday, it emerged that the EU has started legal action against Greece, Italy and Croatia for failing to correctly register migrants.

Tens of thousands of migrants have arrived in those countries over the last few months but less than half of them have been registered by national authorities. Greece has fingerprinted only around 121,000 of the almost half a million people who arrived there between July 20 and November 30 this year, according to the European Commission.

The commission warned the three countries about the shortfalls two months ago, but said yesterday that these "concerns have not been effectively addressed".

The EU's executive arm said it sent formal letters of notice to the three, the first formal step in infringement proceedings.

And in Prague yesterday, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said it was necessary for the EU to better protect its external border to be able to cope with the current wave of migrants.

Mr Schaueble said that with better management "we can destroy the business model of the human smuggling organisations."

He was in the Czech capital to attend a meeting of the EPP Christian Democrat group of the European Parliament.

According to Mr Schaeuble, migration also has a positive side, at least for Germany, because with the migrants "we can fight our demographic problems ... (and) ... we can integrate the people into our labour market."

He says he is confident that with proper management of the border protection "we will manage" the migrant crisis.

Irish Independent

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