european countries closing doors to refugees, anti migration wave clear, widespread human rights watch
Last updated on March 13th, 2023 at 07:13 am
According to an official from a global rights group, European countries are closing their doors to asylum seekers and endangering them with “unlawful and illegal” practices.
“Many European countries are closing their doors on people seeking protection and engaging in dangerous, harmful practices that violate human rights law and refugee law, which put people in grave danger,” Emilie McDonnell, UK advocacy and communications coordinator at Human Rights Watch told Anadolu in an exclusive interview.
European countries’ attitudes toward refugees are becoming more evident and common, McDonnell said.
The wave against migrants isn’t new. But it’s certainly becoming more widespread, more obvious,” she said.
The UK government introduced new legislation Tuesday against illegal migrants, calling for a ban on those who cross the English Channel by boat to claim asylum in Britain. As part of the legislation, refugees will also be detained and relocated to their home countries, Rwanda, or any other nation the UK deems safe.
The human rights advocate dubbed the legislation a “sweeping bill” that strips most asylum seekers of appeal rights, allowing them to appeal only after they have been removed and sent or expelled to another country as well as not being able to access the UK’s protection for modern slavery.
In spite of exceptions in the bill, the government can still choose to remove unaccompanied children or detain them until they are adults, thereby expelling them and preventing them from seeking asylum.
In regard to loopholes in the legislation, McDonnell said the bill provides very limited appeal rights, and she fears people will be expelled and sent to unsafe countries.
The UK government is demonizing asylum seekers and migrants in the UK and fueling hatred, fear, and division against them with all of this legislation.”
She said it would be disastrous for migrants, especially people of color, in the UK.
A large number of refugees cross the English Channel seeking protection from countries such as Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, and Eritrea, where persecution, wars, and human rights abuses are common. These countries are not safe for asylum seekers, she said.
Afghans were the highest number of individuals crossing the Channel by boat in the last quarter of 2022.
But she said the government’s schemes for Afghans to travel safely are plagued with problems.
“During 2022, only 22 Afghans have been resettled under the UN resettlement pathway set up by the UK government, and none have been resettled under the pathway the UK government set up for people who worked with the British in Afghanistan and for vulnerable people,” she explained. There are no safe routes to the UK for women and girls who are at risk, said the Human Rights Watch official.
In contrast to other European countries, Britain accepts far fewer asylum seekers than France and Germany.
However, Human Rights Watch has documented the “awful and deplorable” conditions of asylum seekers in encampments, especially in northern France.
He called the new legislation a “breach” of the UN’s 1951 Refugee Convention.
The defendant of the UN refugee convention is a flagrant violation. The government is fueling division in its rhetoric and stoking division by encouraging asylum seekers regardless of how they arrived in the UK – whether they arrived by boat, in the back of a truck, or on foot, and it is not illegal for anyone to seek asylum.
Approximately 65,000 people are predicted to cross the Channel this year, up from 45,000 last year.
It is alarming that the UK government is pushing ahead with a very unworkable and unlawful bill,” she said.
According to McDonnell, the “global refugee regime” is under grave threat from the UK and other European countries, while Rwanda is not a safe place to expel migrants.
For instance, to prevent deaths at sea, the UK should invest in opening safe routes, expanding resettlements, and providing humanitarian visas to asylum seekers.
It is cruel, unworkable, and illegal. Instead of demonizing refugees and inciting fear and division, the UK should focus on real solutions.