Asylum has hit the headlines in recent months, due to the tragic deaths of people trying to cross the Mediterranean in search of safety.
This follows decisions by the European Union to scale back search-and-rescue operations for people caught in treacherous conditions, trying to make this crossing. The justification for stopping this humanitarian service, is that it supposedly ‘encourages’ people to try to make the crossing, ‘knowing’ they will be saved. In fact people are fleeing for their lives and take a chance on the only option available to reach some sort of safe haven.
Syamend fled from the civil war in Syria to a refugee camp in Turkey. As the camp became ever more overcrowded, with not enough resources to go around, Syamend took his chances on a dangerous sea crossing in a dinghy. Although he survived to land in Greece, not everyone on the boat was so lucky. He tells his full story to Refugee Action.
The EU’s response to the recent loss of life, has been to focus on military operations against people-smugglers. It is true that the smugglers are taking advantage of vulnerable people, with little regard for their safety. However, this approach misses the cause of the problem: asylum seekers often have no legitimate way to reach a place of safety – despite having a legitamate claim to asylum. Furthermore, a military approach puts people’s lives at even greater risk.
Syamend says: “All I want is to be a normal human being with a job and to be reunited with my family.” You can take action to call for a more compassionate approach, that looks to the causes of these issues, not just the sypmtoms:
- Quaker Asylum & Refugee Network have a template letter to MPs
- Refugee Action have a petition to the UK government
- The October 3 Committee are petitioning the EU president
- Save the Children also have a petition
And of course you can pop into Peace Hub to find out more and get support in taking action.