In May 2015 the European Commission presented the European Agenda on Migration, meant to address the challenges of the increased arrivals of migrants and refugees to Europe. Three years later arrivals have decreased, and policymakers claim their plan worked.
“The reality however is that people are still dying trying to reach Europe,” says Claudia Bonamini, Europe’s policy and advocacy officer for Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS). In its latest report, “Forgotten at the gates of Europe” JRS Europe asks for a fundamental policy change towards a Common European Asylum System that lives up to its name.
The report finds that violent push-backs still happen at several EU external borders, such as between Croatia and Serbia as well as in Melilla. Even once on EU territory, people often face enormous difficulty to access asylum procedures because they have not received sufficient information, or because the authorities of EU Member States purposefully misdirect them.
In Croatia, people were told to sign forms in languages they could not understand. They thought they had applied for asylum, but instead they were pushed-back to Serbia. In Romania, people were detained without being told how they could apply for asylum. People in Greece, Italy, and Malta told JRS how they were unable to navigate asylum and immigration procedure because they were not told how, or things were in a language they did not understand.
JRS is calling for a fundamental policy shift at EU level, whereby they create safe and legal pathways for people seeking protection.