Belgian charity: WeMove Europe and Oxfam initiative

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A close-up view of the Za'atri camp in Jordan for Syrian refugees / U.S. Department of State

Our Belgian charity feature focuses on two human rights groups who have joined together to protect asylum seekers.

The European Commission should trigger an infringement procedure against Greece for its systematic breach of EU law in its treatment of people seeking asylum in Europe, according to a coalition of human rights groups, who filed a legal complaint a day before the Commission released a new European pact on asylum and migration. The organizations said that the Greek government has failed to investigate and address well-documented allegations of rights violations, including continued violent pushbacks of people seeking asylum towards Turkey and the blatant disregard for asylum safeguards. The complaint was submitted by international law firm De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, who worked pro bono on behalf of WeMove Europe and Oxfam. The organizations now insist that the European Commission intervenes.

The groups warned the EU against replicating the failures of its current migration policies in the new pact and highlighted the need for increased solidarity and responsibility sharing between European countries, particularly following the fire that destroyed the notorious Moria refugee camp. Marissa Ryan, head of Oxfam’s EU office, said: “The European Commission is the guardian of EU law, and it should uphold and protect the fundamental rights of all people across Europe. What happened two weeks ago in Moria camp demonstrates Europe’s collective failure to do so. The Commission should urgently assess whether the Greek authorities respect EU law and otherwise trigger legal proceedings against Greece for exposing people seeking asylum on its territory to suffering and abuse.”

They state that “rather than offering people in search of safety the protection they are legally entitled to Greece has reduced safeguards for asylum seekers against deportation and offers little chance of a fair asylum procedure”. In practice, the new asylum law and its implementation effectively bar many people who do not have legal support from appealing an asylum rejection. Giulio Carini, senior campaigner at WeMove Europe, said: “This is more than just the story of Greece. These are Europe’s refugee camps.

In March, EU leaders visited the Greek-Turkey border and backed Greece in their response. So, this is about how Europe manages migration, by backing policies that have only led to incredible suffering. Europe’s asylum system must respect basic rights, and offer a fair opportunity to seek asylum, to those who are fleeing conflict and persecution, while making sure every person is safe from harm.” Find out more about Oxfam’s European office www.oxfam.org/en/eu and WeMoveEurope www.wemove.eu

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