Today 24th of February 2023, marks one year since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began and the Europe Must Act (EMA) team wants to look at the current situation for refugees in Europe and what occurred over the last year.
After the Russian attack on Ukraine commenced, forcing people to leave their homes and flee the country to save their lives, governments all over Europe rightfully welcomed refugees from Ukraine with solidarity and support on many levels. Society massively received the Ukrainian people and quickly understood their reasons to flee the country and the importance to welcome everyone. Following the society's response, the EU Commission activated the “Temporary Protection Directive” which enabled people fleeing Ukraine to receive legal status in the EU: giving them the right to work, obtain financial support and access accommodation.
Meanwhile, the situation for refugees, asylum seekers and people-on-the-move from other countries was the absolute opposite: reports show that PoM arriving in Greece have to spend months and even years in prison-like camps or makeshift shelters. Safe and legal migration routes were (and still are) nonexistent, pushing PoM to cross borders irregularly. These routes usually involve facing human rights violations, such as violent push-backs (e.g. in Greece and all over the Balkan route) and having their right to seek asylum unlawfully denied.
The situation of non-white and/or non-European PoM pushed Europe Must Act to action. Together with 45 organisations from across Europe, we created #WelcomeForAll; a petition calling for an equal approach to migration. In this petition, EMA asked European Heads of State and EU entities to apply the same standards for all people-on-the-move arriving in Europe:
1. Protection and access to asylum for everyone, without any distinction
2. European solidarity and relocation
3. Dignified reception conditions
4. Power to the cities
5. Safe and legal routes
Paula Llopis, Communications Co-Coordinator, Europe Must Act: “One year later, nothing seems to have changed. The EU and its Member States just agreed on more funding for push-backs, deportations and border management, making the journey to Europe difficult and life-threatening.”
Today EMA is closing the #WelcomeForAll petition, resending it to European Heads of State, Charles Michel (President of the European Council) and Ursula von der Leyen (President of the European Commission).
Notes for Editors
Europe Must Act (EMA) is a growing grassroots movement, bringing together volunteers and NGOs to campaign for the humane, dignified and legal reception of refugees in Europe. EMA was established in March 2020 by a group of volunteers on the Greek Aegean islands of Chios and Samos in response to the ever-worsening situation of the hotspot camps. For more information about EMA, please visit https://www.europemustact.org/about-us.
Further comments available.
Elsa Beau, Communications Co-Coordinator and Raising Voices Coordinator, Europe Must Act
Paula Llopis, Communications Co-Coordinator, Europe Must Act
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