IOM Urges EU to Respect Rights of Vulnerable Migrants

The EU should  adopt policies that balance full protection for refugees, orderly border management and dignified return for those who do not qualify for asylum, IOM Director General William Lacy Swing has said.

William Lacy Swing

William Lacy Swing

He also underscored the need for more care for those who not neatly fit the categorisation of refugee.

Speaking at a high level EU conference in Luxembourg on refugees and migration flows through the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Balkans, Swing said: “IOM welcomes another milestone along the path of a new migration policy with your adoption today of a Declaration.”

“Many of those on the move defy easy categorization. Many will be covered by the 1951 Refugee Convention and many others will not. But it is too simplistic to conclude that all of them fall into a single broad category of “economic migrants,” he said.

“I am speaking of a wide range of vulnerable migrants – families with children; persons seeking to re-unite with their families already in Europe; unaccompanied and separated children; victims of trafficking; single and pregnant women, the elderly, the sick and the injured. The majority are coming from countries facing great strife, abject poverty or simply, hopelessness,” he noted.

Over 530,000 people arrived in the EU so far this year, seeking sanctuary and fleeing poverty in what has become a political emergency for Europe. Almost 3,000 desperate refugees and migrants have drowned this year while crossing to Europe in unsafe boats.

In his remarks Swing said the focus on migration and refugees is a further recognition that “this 20th century mega-trend of human mobility must be managed.”

“The Declaration is also a recognition that the increased flows are manageable for Europe as a whole, with its large population of more than 500 million and abundant resources,” he said.

On Wednesday, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged EU members to act together to tackle the migrant crisis.

In a rare joint address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, they called for a revamped system for dealing with asylum claims. Germany has taken in far more migrants than any other EU nation, while others have refused to sign up to a quota system.