Our report, ‘Roads to Nowhere’, released today (March 15), has laid bare the harrowing experiences of Syrian and other refugees crossing Europe, in a bid to abolish the Dublin Regulation and replace it with a more humane system.
The Dublin Regulation, the EU policy instrument regulating responsibility for asylum applications, stipulates that asylum seekers are the responsibility of the EU Member State in which they first arrive. Exemptions on transfers of refugees under the Dublin Regulation expire on March 15, putting hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK (and across Europe) at risk.
Border authorities in struggling Southern European economies are now routinely allocated refugees and asylum seekers that have no desire to be there, in numbers unevenly and unfairly distributed between EU member states. This is the case even when such countries are linked to serious allegations of abuse and violence against refugees. There is also a risk that the threat of deportation will cause migrants resident in the UK to become undocumented.
The testimonies in the report identify serious mistreatment in multiple EU member states, as well as inflexibility at the UK Home Office, who have often left people waiting on a decision for years. They explain how the system has contributed to mental and physical health problems and exacerbated the traumas that caused them to seek refuge initially.
“I pleaded with them to send me back to Syria, I told them I would rather die than go back to Italy, where I have no-one,” says one respondent of his appeal to UK authorities to allow him to remain. Another respondent said of the Romanian camp he was deported to under the Dublin Regulation: “Sometimes they would keep you handcuffed to bed for many days, up to a few days, denying water or food or toilet. There was suffocation, waterboarding, throwing tear gas into cells when people showed any protest.”
Migrant Voice are calling for the EU to replace the Dublin Regulation with a Europe-wide single asylum application with a minimum standard of reception and integration. The report also calls on the UK Government to change asylum rules to take individual circumstances into account (including refugees’ social and extended family connections to the UK), and in the event of the Dublin Regulation remaining unreformed, to withdraw from the framework in any Brexit deal.
The Dublin Regulation gambles with the lives of vulnerable people fleeing the world’s most desperate circumstances, treating refugees like balls to be bounced from country to country with no chance of building a real future.
It doesn’t work for the asylum seekers who are – from today - at risk of being sent to countries that abuse them, it doesn’t work for the Home Office who are seeing migrants become undocumented, and it doesn’t work for struggling economies in Southern Europe having to do more than their fair share.
It would be a continent-wide disgrace for this to continue. The compassionate majority in Britain will realise we must allow those refugees with familial or social connections in Britain to settle immediately – and the European Union must suspend Dublin transfers and replace the system as a matter of grave urgency.