European Interest

Refugees International criticises EU

Flickr/Tomoko Snyder/CC BY 2.0
Women and children refugees striking at the platform of Budapest Keleti railway station, Hungary.

Europe is not living up to its promises on human rights, according to the chief of Refugees International.

Eric Schwartz, who is the president of the Washington-based Refugees International, was in Brussels to urge the European Union to become the world’s leader in humanitarian policy.

In an interview with Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, Schwartz said: “The reality of a strong United States committed to a strong and united Europe – that’s not there. It is almost impossible to overstate the significance of that development. It is extremely challenging, extremely troubling.”

Refugees International has warned that a lack of a common asylum policy and the failure of the agree migration resettlement scheme have exacerbated the problem. It is especially critical of what it describes as the unacceptable prioritization of blocking arrivals over ensuring human rights, especially EU efforts to prevent potential migrants and refugees from leaving Turkey and Libya.

As troubling, said Schwartz, is that “the nativist rhetoric among leaders in the United States has been matched by nativist rhetoric here” in Europe.

“In Europe at least there is a there is a declared commitment, an articulated commitment to human rights principles,” he told DW. “And our job is to point out the dramatic discrepancy between the principles that European leaders espouse and the actions that they’re taking and that that gives us the capacity to shame governments and move them in the right direction.

“We sit down with European leaders and say, ‘This is what you say you care about, but look what’s happening: You say you care about human rights in Libya but there are thousands of people being detained under wretched conditions. All right. You say you care about human rights in Turkey, but you’ve got an agreement where people are being returned to Turkey without the kind of guarantees of protection that they need.’”

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