26. August 2015 · Kommentare deaktiviert für „Europe needs a radical new approach to migration. How about making it easier?“ · Kategorien: Europa, Hintergrund · Tags: ,

Quelle: The Guardian

by Tim Finch

Smoothing the way for refugees to come to Europe would require huge political courage. But it’s the only way to avoid a repeat of this summer’s tragic scenes

In theory, the EU has a common asylum policy. In practice, there is almost no cooperation. Faced with this summer’s “migrant crisis”, Hungary is racing to complete a fence to keep Syrians and other refugees out, while Germany has signalled that it will allow any Syrians who get to Germany to remain, in the process tearing up a long-established convention which says that refugees must claim asylum in the first EU country they reach.

Closer to home, Britain and France have signed a deal over Calais, but Britain is refusing to even consider any “burden sharing” of refugees with France. And while northern EU states are now working with Mediterranean countries on search-and-rescue at sea, they still won’t help to settle the migrants saved.

Meanwhile, unprecedented numbers of migrants – most fleeing conflict and persecution, others escaping poverty and instability – keep coming. Some will find the long-term safety and security they crave. But too many are dying along the way, and for all of them, the journey is arduous, hazardous and expensive.

This cannot go on. It is a matter of shame that an EU member state is putting up fences to prevent people from Syria and elsewhere seeking legal protection. And yet as a Hungarian government spokesman said yesterday, faced with 137,000 people crossing its borders irregularly this year, with no passport checks, some action has to be taken.

Even Germany’s approach is not as enlightened as it seems. It amounts to saying to refugees: “You’re welcome if you get here, but first you’ll have to pay thousands of dollars to smugglers and risk your life in a leaky boat or on a long journey on foot.”

Already traumatised people are faced with yet another ordeal.

A new approach is required. At its heart should be an end to the current system of “spontaneous arrival”, which requires refugees to make irregular journeys to Europe in order to claim asylum. Instead, there should be a system of managed protection. All refugees would first have to go and stay in camps in neighbouring countries (as in fact most do anyway), but unlike now, in the confident expectation that if a return home was not possible, they would have a good chance of being resettled in Europe.

At the moment, only a tiny fraction of refugees in Europe (fewer than 8,000 annually) come in through managed resettlement. Britain’s Gateway programme, for instance, takes in 750 refugees annually, a number that hasn’t increased since the scheme started more than a decade ago. One reason for this miserable record is that Europe (because of its geographical proximity to the world’s conflict zones) takes in so many asylum seekers through spontaneous arrival – despite the obstacles it erects to prevent this happening. European governments, therefore, feel that they are already fulfilling their international obligations to provide refugee protection. Yet, as we’ve seen this summer, if this is the only route to gain protection, when numbers surge, chaos, misery, and political crisis ensues.

As a first step towards a new system, EU countries should, on a one-off basis, provide status (in some cases temporary) to the migrants who’ve already arrived. But thereafter, they should signal that all migrants trying to enter the continent by irregular means (without passports or valid visas) will be stopped and returned. In the case of those with prima facie claims for asylum, not back to their countries of origin, but to UN refugee camps in their region which the EU should fund more generously.

The quid pro quo for this stance would be an announcement of a hugely increased EU refugee resettlement scheme, running to several hundred thousand places each year, which would assure refugees that they weren’t going to be left for years in the camps.

Such a move would require political courage from European leaders. Most face electorates who do not want to see migrant numbers increase. But I would argue that a shift to a system of managed refugee protection would prove more politically acceptable in the long run than the current disorder. It would mean more recognised refugees coming to Europe, and it would reduce the chaotic irregular immigration which European voters so dislike and which can result in such tragedy.

On the other side of the argument, refugee supporters have long rejected the notion of Europe moving to “off shore” asylum processing and turning away anyone who just arrives in an EU country. Yet, if resettlement to Europe was a much more realistic (and quicker) prospect it should not be so objectionable to require refugees to go (or return) to well-run refugee camps in their regions for immediate safety. Just as it is now accepted that economic migration should be managed, the same should be true for refugee protection.

Given the fixed positions of EU governments and, indeed, of many refugee agencies, it’s hard to be optimistic about such a scheme being adopted. But in the absence of reform, refugees will continue to vote with their feet and embark on dangerous and disorderly journeys in the hope they’ll get through. This is bad for them and bad for the people of Europe. If the scenes of this summer are not to be repeated, radical change is needed.

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