Brussels (Brussels Morning) The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) claims the EU is jeopardising the concept of asylum, DW reports.
The UN body asserts illegal treatment of refugees at the bloc’s external borders is increasingly common, with refugees who arrive on boats being turned away and those who manage to disembark being forced back onboard and the boats then being forced to leave.
UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection’s comments
Gillian Triggs, UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, noted the “UNHCR has received a continuous stream of reports of some European states restricting access to asylum, returning people after they have reached territory or territorial waters, and using violence against them at borders.”
Triggs did not name any countries or sources of the reports, but warned that illegal pushbacks “are carried out in a violent and apparently systematic way.” The UNHCR official observed that many people who had been turned back claimed they were abused and attacked by state forces.
“Respecting human lives and refugee rights is not a choice, it’s a legal and moral obligation”, she declared. Arrivals to the bloc have been in decline over recent years, she added, a situation the EU should be able to manage.
Triggs expressed regret that “the issue of asylum remains politicized and divisive despite such declining numbers,” and pointed out that under UN rules, the EU is obliged to assess each case individually.
According to the UN body, the number of arrivals to the EU stood at 95,000 in 2020, representing a 33% decline compared to 2018.
Noting that people who enter the EU from neighbouring countries are being turned away without it even being ascertained as to whether they are in need of protection, the UNHCR said it had called on EU member states to investigate alleged violations.
The UN agency said some bloc members are hosting a disproportionate number of the arrivals and that other EU member states should take in more migrants.