Pro-refugee demonstration in Barcelona

Church groups push EU for “more humane” treatment of migrants and asylum seekers

Church groups are calling on the EU to guarantee “more humane, transparent and effective” resources for migrants and asylum seekers in the Union.

Driving the news

In a statement Wednesday, Church organisations including the European branch of the International Catholic Migration Commission, Caritas Europa and the Jesuit Refugee Service Europe urged politicians in Brussels to ensure a “rights-based and holistic approach to asylum and migration” in the EU.

Their call, jointly with civil NGOs, came as legislators resumed discussions on a new Asylum and Migration Fund proposal as part of the wider negotiations on the next Multi-Annual Financial Framework of the EU, to run from 2021 to 2027.

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The Church and civil groups said that because of “delays and implementation gaps” they foresee for EU-funded programs in 2021, it is “essential” that Member States also “invest in their own national budgets” to ensure the future of asylum and migration projects.

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They urged EU countries to prioritise “the needs of migrants and refugees vulnerable to violence, exploitation and abuse”, as well as the victims of human trafficking.

They also said Member States must use EU funds to provide “management-based alternatives to detention”, including family and community-based care, material aid and assistance, and psychosocial and mental health support.

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Why it matters

The Church and civil organisations added that EU funds in third countries should be limited to “direct assistance and practical cooperation related to facilitating resettlement, protection pathways, regular migration, human-rights compliant returns, and reintegration”.

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Another priority for the groups is a “meaningful and inclusive” partnership between EU and civil society organisations on questions of migration and resettlement, given that such collaboration “too often remains a cosmetic consultation without any impact on substance”.

EU resettlement funds “should be made more inclusive by incorporating the views of migrants and refugees themselves regarding their needs [and] priority challenges facing their integration”, the Church and civil groups also said.

“Engaging migrants and refugees not only as passive beneficiaries… but as, reflecting reality, contributors to the discussions… would bring clear positive results by increasing both the legitimacy and the efficiency of the process”, the organisations underlined.

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