Maltese NGOs criticise EU for having ‘little appetite for saving migrants’ lives’

Human rights NGOs aditus Foundation and JRS compiled information about refugees and asylum seekers in Malta as part of a European project. 

“There is little appetite at EU level to save the lives of people fleeing war and persecution,” Maltese NGOs aditus Foundation and the Jesuit Refugee Service Malta said.  “After the initial shock following the deaths of over 360 people off the coast of Lampedusa last October, the EU pledged that nothing should be spared to prevent this from happening again.”

“However, it soon reverted to the same failed measures, that is attempts at more cooperation with third countries and the amplification of border surveillance.”

The two NGOs, who have both worked extensively with asylum seekers and refugees, compiled information about refugees in Malta as part of a European project. The aim of this project is to compile a database about refugees and asylum seekers in 15 EU member states, including Malta. The NGOs said that this study ‘illustrates the persistent gaps between the theory of a Common European Asylum System, where people fleeing similar situations are treated alike, and the actual harsh realities facing asylum seekers’.

“With restricted access to the EU for people fleeing war and persecution, and asylum seekers ending up destitute or detained in some European countries, the EU remains an elusive safe haven for refugees,” the two Maltese NGOs said. “These people are being forced to take ever greater risks in order to reach EU territory and claim international protection.”

“Those asylum seekers who manage to reach the EU continue to be confronted with additional obstacles to having their claim for protection fairly assessed,” the NGOs said. “This research show that access to accommodation and support to meet basic needs, the grounds for and conditions for detention, and access to quality free legal assistance remain problematic in a number of EU member states.

“While in some countries, such as Belgium and the Netherlands, asylum-seeking families with children are no longer detained at the border, they are still frequently detained in Malta.”

Aditus and JRS pointed out that while 435,000 people applied for asylum in the EU in 2013, the EU received less than half of the number of refugees currently hosted by Lebanon alone, a country of just four million inhabitants.

The full report can be accessed from: 

http://www.asylumineurope.org/Annual_Report_2013-2014

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