A group of European newspaper editors have united in an appeal to the European Union to take decisive action to deal with the refugee crisis.
Ahead of meeting of EU ministers in Brussels next Monday (14 September) called to negotiate solutions to the crisis, the editors have set out several demands to solve what they call “the worst refugee crisis the world has seen since the second world war.”
They point out that more and more people displaced from war-torn Syria are dying in their desperate attempts to flee the country.
The Independent, one of the signatories, said that “with each passing month Europe has done too little, too late. We are experiencing a refugee catastrophe, but unwillingness to act has also unveiled a serious political crisis.”
It has joined with Germany’s Die Zeit, Italy’s La Repubblica, Spain’s El Paìs, France’s Libération and papers in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Poland, Hungary, Cyprus and Slovakia to make a set of demands of the EU’s political leaders:
*Establish simple, safe and practical ways for refugees to seek asylum in Europe without risking their lives to come here. This is the best way to eliminate human trafficking and reduce casualties.
*Show solidarity toward the countries at Europe’s outer borders, where refugees and migrants first arrive, by funding and organising a safe, dignified and coordinated reception system at Europe’s edges with a fast and fair assessment of applications for asylum.
*Suspend the Dublin agreement which return asylum-seekers to their first point of entry, so long as large numbers of refugees continue to arrive in Europe.
*Support a fairer distribution of refugees among EU member states. All European countries must participate in a relocation programme far more ambitious than we have seen so far. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, has suggested that Europe takes responsibility for 200,000 refugees. This should be the starting point of the discussions.
*Increase financial and humanitarian aid to Middle Eastern nations affected by the Syrian conflict. An aid package must cover not only the immediate needs of food, water and medical supplies, but should commit Europe to helping rebuild local communities in the long term, thereby offering people in the Middle East hope and opportunities for a safer and better future in their own countries.
*Put increased pressure on other key international players, such as Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States, to do their utmost to bring the parties in the Syrian conflict together for UN-led peace negotiations.
Our leaders must show courage and insight if they are not to fail this test of our shared European civilization. We need to act, and we need to act now.
Bernd Ulrich, Die Zeit, Germany; Ezio Mauro, La Repubblica, Italy; Antonio Caño, El Paìs, Spain; Johan Hufnagel and Laurent Joffrin, Libération, France;
Amol Rajan, The Independent, UK; Oliver Duff, i, UK; Lisa Markwell, Independent on Sunday, UK; Christian Broughton, independent.co.uk; Andreas Paraschos,
Kathimerini, Cyprus; András Murányi, Népszabadság, Hungary;
Matúš Kostolný, Denník N, Slovakia; Adam Michnik, Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland; Jan Helin, Aftonbladet, Sweden; Christian Jensen, Information, Denmark; Anna B. Jenssen, Morgenbladet, Norway.
Source: The Independent