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EU Commissioner Ylva Johansson asked to “speak up for human rights” after 2 years in office

[01.12.2021, 07:00 CET]

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, December 1st marks the 2nd anniversary of Commissioner Ylva Johansson office as EU’s Commissioner for Home Affairs. Europe Must Act (EMA) wrote her an open letter to highlight “just some of the countless and pervasive rights violations being committed across Europe against people seeking sanctuary here.”, reminding the Commissioner of her commitment to “speak up for human rights”.

“Across our borders, values that define the European Union are being repeatedly undermined and the human rights of people on the move are being denied.” recalls EMA. Examples from Greece, Poland, France have been chosen to illustrate the abuses occurring frequently and repeatedly across the EU. Each of them “ should not be considered as isolated incidents but rather as part of an increasingly systemic abandonment of fundamental EU laws and values in the name of security and protecting borders.”

This resonates with the testimonies of the people seeking asylum in the EU. For instance, Adama*, a 23 years old man living in the Closed Controlled Access Centre on Samos island (Greece), shared his feelings and experience during a long phone call with Europe Must Act [full testimony available on request]. After fearing to lose his life during a pushback on his first attempt to reach Samos, he is now afraid of staying in this prison-like camp where he is “very hungry”, “too cold”, and unable to leave: “I don't feel well. When every day you don't eat well, you lie on your bed, you think too much... it makes you lose weight.”

“We have no freedom[...] If we had a choice, we wouldn't accept that they treat us like animals. We have no choice. I came to Greece because I thought they would protect me and give me asylum. But they really disappointed me, they didn't welcome me. I didn't expect that.”

Rosie Rooney, EU/UN Advocacy Coordinator for Europe Must Act says: “The increase in human rights abuses at Europe’s borders is deeply alarming, as pushbacks, violence, evictions and detention become ever more normalised. The EU Commissioner must take responsibility for reversing this trend, by taking swift action against EU member states that fail to meet their international obligations to people seeking sanctuary. Protecting borders should never come at the expense of protecting fundamental human rights.”

*pseudonym chosen by the person


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

Further comments available.



Christian Schmidt, Press Coordinator, Europe Must Act |

Key Links

Letter to Ylva Johansson


Europe Must Act is a campaign group run by a coalition of NGOs working on the Aegean Islands. Find out more here.

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