Today's suggestion by the European Commission on plans for new 'controlled centers' for refugees and other migrants inside the EU, and its proposed arrangements for disembarking migrants rescued in the Mediterranean in countries outside the EU, were condemned by Oxfam today.
Reacting to the news, Oxfam's Europe migration campaign lead Evelien van Roemburg said:
"What the European Commission calls 'controlled centers' are de facto detention camps. This idea has been tried and failed before - leaving vulnerable people living in deplorable, inhumane conditions in so-called 'EU hotspots' in Italy and Greece. Rather than creating more camps, European governments must reform the European asylum system so that it is based on responsibility sharing between all member states, and puts people's personal safety, needs and rights first.
"Refugees in 'EU hotspots' regularly wait over two years for authorities to make a decision on their asylum claims, through procedures that are often opaque and unfair. This puts asylum seekers, many of whom are traumatized or victims of trafficking, in a legal limbo without access to basic services such as healthcare or education for children.
"If EU member states are already struggling to provide proper care and a fair process for assessing asylum claims, there is no reason to believe that 'disembarkation platforms' outside the EU will be any better. They are just another attempt by Europe to offload its responsibilities to poorer countries outside of the EU. This approach to migration is a recipe for failure, and directly threatens the rights of women, men and children on the move."
Notes to editors:
European leaders at the EU Summit on 28 June failed to agree on reforms to the common European asylum system, instead allowing internal rows to shape the EU's migration policy. EU leaders called for the development of "controlled centres" on EU soil, and invited the Council and the Commission to explore the concept of "regional disembarkation platforms" in third countries.
According to the Commission, no country will be approached for "regional disembarkation arrangements" until 30 July, when the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organisation for Migration and the European Commission meet to discuss the issue.
In June 2018, the number of asylum seekers on the Greek islands reached the unprecedented figure of 17,800. In the island's hotspot, Moria camp and its extension the 'Olive Grove' (not including the protected areas and the pre-removal center in Moria), there are 72 people per functioning toilet and 84 people per functioning shower.
People often spend months in the dark waiting for their asylum claims to be processed. Many refugees do not have access to legal aid, either because they are not informed of their right to a lawyer or because there not enough lawyers available.
Children as young as 12 are being abused, detained and illegally returned to Italy by French border guards, according to an Oxfam report published on 15 June.