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Les demandeurs d'asile continuent d'être repoussés illégalement aux frontières terrestres et maritimes de l'Europe. © MSF


EU double standard to assistance and protection

Asylum seekers continue to be illegally pushed back to Europe's land and sea borders. © MSF
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Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, we have seen a positive response from European states and leaders, who have adopted a number of measures to ensure that people fleeing Ukraine are provided with border assistance, safe passage, access to health, school and work.

    The EU has always had the necessary tools and mechanisms, all that was missing was the political will

    This extremely positive response from EU countries and leaders was absolutely necessary and welcome. Encouragingly, it also shows that the EU has always had the tools to provide safe assistance to those seeking security in Europe. All that was missing was the political will.

    People seeking safety from other parts of the world face highly restrictive border policies

    Yet, even today, we see in our EU border operations that people from other parts of the world continue to face highly restrictive border policies, denial of assistance and criminalisation, simply because they are seeking safety.

    Every day, in our operations at Europe's borders, we see that people from other parts of the world seeking safety are still exposed to measures to :

    • deter them,
    • repel them,
    • force them to return to the very place they are trying to flee.

    While EU Member States need to do more to provide security and assistance to refugees fleeing Ukraine, this is in stark contrast to the scale of brutality and violence we have witnessed at Europe's other borders in recent years. Last weekend, nearly 100 people were killed in the Mediterranean," said Reem Mussa, MSF's migration adviser.

    "Many more people on the run are denied rescue, or are intercepted and sent back into a cycle of torture and abuse in Libya. Across Europe, in countries such as Greece, Poland, Croatia and Hungary, illegal and often violent refoulements continue, and those who reach EU countries are often detained in prison-like centres, excluded from health systems and face difficulties in obtaining asylum," says Reem Mussa, coordinator of the forced migration team at Médecins Sans Frontières.

    Everyone seeking safety in Europe, regardless of race or nationality, should be treated with equal dignity and be assisted and protected. The response to the Ukrainian refugees shows that a better and more humane policy is possible: it is high time for the EU to review its failing migration model.