Creating a fair and efficient asylum system for people seeking protection in Europe

Around the world, protracted crises and sudden-onset emergencies have left millions of people displaced from their homes.

Around the world, protracted crises and sudden-onset emergencies have left millions of people displaced from their homes. While most of these people are displaced within their own country or the wider region, some people venture on life threatening journeys to seek international protection in Europe.

The reception systems in European countries of first arrival – especially in Greece and Italy – are over capacity. People seeking asylum are often pushed out of the official system by poor and unsafe conditions, and they lack any information about legal ways to claim asylum or reunite with family members in other European countries. This contravenes international and European law on access to asylum.

EU-Turkey deal has led to dangerous conditions for migrants in Europe

The European Union’s deal with Turkey to control migration and return “irregular” migrants has led to policies and practices in Greece that are short-sighted, unsustainable, ineffective and dangerous. People seeking protection in Europe have been stranded in unsafe, unhygienic and inhumane conditions in overcrowded EU camps on the Greek islands. This is the direct result of the European policy of trapping asylum seekers in EU “hotspots” in the Greek islands, rather than hosting them in locations on the European mainland.

Migration deal with Libya sends people back to detention camps in war-torn country

Italy’s EU-backed migration deal with Libya has led to thousands of women, men and children drowning in the Mediterranean Sea and many more suffering back in Libyan detention camps. The Libya deal promises logistical and financial support from Italy and the EU to the Libyan coastguard, in return for the coastguard preventing people leaving Libya for Europe.

Numerous accounts collected by Oxfam and its partners over the past years show that in Libya, these people are often crammed into detention centres in abandoned buildings or pitch-black tunnels, without enough food. Many are mistreated before being sold to armed groups or as slaves.

EU governments should share responsibility and improve asylum systems

The European Union should implement an asylum system that is safe, fair and effective, and which provides access to basic services to all people seeking asylum. EU states should share responsibility for hosting refugees and ensure refugee family members can reunite across countries. Europe also needs to implement strong search and rescue operations with the sole objective of saving lives.

Read Oxfam’s detailed analysis of the current situation and of what needs to happen next.