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Save the Children response to EU refugee proposal

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Europe refugee proposal will increase risks for children, says Save the Children

We are deeply disappointed by the nature of the discussions that took place at yesterday’s EU-Turkey Summit, which amounted to a tit-for-tat game played with innocent human lives. Europe’s concern goes no further than guarding its external borders and containing people within Turkey – depriving vulnerable people and children fleeing war and persecution from seeking asylum in Europe, which is a violation of both international and refugee law.

Children make up one third of asylum-seekers trying to reach Europe. Currently in Europe, one in four asylum applicants is a child (800 per day). While we welcome the possibility of increased resettlement from Turkey to Europe, we are horrified by the twisted logic behind the proposed deal that requires one person to risk their life at sea in order for another to enjoy safe and legal passage into Europe. The proposed “return one to resettle one” policy idea regarding Syrian refugees will be particularly harmful for children. It will only serve to increase insecurity about their status and they will seek other, more dangerous routes to reach Europe, making them an easy prey for smugglers and traffickers. Legal routes for migration, including family reunification, should be the core pillar of any European response to the crisis. Making this conditional on the continued desperation of people willing to make a treacherous boat journey is abhorrent.

Another concern, which has not been widely acknowledged, is the situation of non-Syrians and how they would be affected by this proposal. Over 3,450 unaccompanied children applied for asylum in Europe in January 2016, of which 46% where from Afghanistan. Iraqis, Afghans, and other nationalities will not benefit from the proposed resettlement scheme and do not have the right to claim any form of international or national protection in Turkey.

Any returns of individuals who have not had their asylum applications properly considered, or who are returned to a country where they do not have the right to international protection, would be illegal under international refugee law.


For interviews and more information, contact the Save the Children press office at +44(0)207 012 6841 or +447831 650 409.