The current approaches to migration of both the EU and individual nation states are focussed on securitization, deterrence and externalization of the issue to Europe’s borders. This has created a humanitarian situation in which nearly 30,000 people are living in deplorable conditions in the ‘hotpot’ conditions on the Greek Aegean Islands. To seek asylum in Europe, people fleeing conflict or persecution currently have no choice but to make a perilous crossing by rubber dinghy to the islands. Lives are increasingly at risk as the Greek Coast Guard engages in ‘pushbacks’ in order to prevent these crossings.
What is the Aegean Grassroots Report?
The Aegean Grassroots Report is a report written by Europe Must Act based on the input of 21 grassroots organisations that work with asylum seekers on the Aegean Islands, by inviting them to give input in written form to a survey consisting of open-ended questions. It aims to provide a broad overview of the humanitarian crisis in the Aegean and the specific challenges faced by both NGOs and asylum seekers. Most importantly, it calls on EU and national policymakers to take urgent action to address this protracted humanitarian crisis at Europe’s borders.
This report is released ahead of the European Union releasing its New Pact on Migration and Asylum which will layout proposals for reform and a vision to guide how the 27-country bloc will approach the subject of migration in the coming years. It is hoped that the report, which has been submitted to the European Commission, will influence this New Pact thereby leading to more humane migration policy in Europe.
In light of the abhorrent living conditions of camp residents, the pushbacks and the increasing challenges faced by NGOs, the final section of the Aegean Grassroots Report outlines concrete policy recommendations to provide immediate relief to the Aegean camp populations and make structural changes to European migration policy.
Refugees are resilient, driven and resourceful people who are dreaming of a better life in peace. Currently, the European migration policy, which assumes refugees are a threat to Europe, is based not on this reality but rather on fear. New migration policy must put human rights at its core thereby ensuring dignified living conditions and a fair hearing to all who arrive on Europe's shores seeking safety.
Here is what such a rights-based asylum policy could look like:
1) Immediate actions to provide relief to the Aegean camps
I. Initiating an orderly and humane decongestion of the Aegean camps with the assistance and support of other European states in relocating asylum-seekers across Europe.
II. Recognising grassroots organisations and refugees as essential partners and stakeholders who are regularly consulted and informed by relevant authorities on all aspects of camp management.
III. Increasing financial and technical assistance from the European Union and European governments.
2) Recommendations for structural changes
I. Establish safe and legal pathways to Europe by shifting away from border control programs and deterrence.
II. Foster solidarity among European states to enable the physical relocation of asylum-seekers from countries of first arrival to other European states.
III. Increase the role of European cities and municipalities in national and European migration policymaking. Efforts of cities in the field of reception and integration must be supported by the EU and the Member States' governments through funding and expertise.
What can you do?
If you also agree with our policy recommendations and want to help out spread this message, please share the Aegean Grassroots Report with your local authorities, Members of Parliament or Members of the European Parliament, and speak up on social media channels. Every voice matters and many voices together compose a significant call for change.
Something more you can do is to join your Local EMA City Chapter. For more information on that, please visit our website (https://www.europemustact.org/citiesmustact) to check out the cities that EMA is already present, or send an email to email@example.com.