Fortress Europe ‘miserably failing’ Syrian refugees
Amnesty urges EU leaders to open their borders as refugees face dangerous crossings and abuse
EUROPE has been accused of “miserably failing” to help Syrian refugees, with Britain offering no spaces for Syrians fleeing from civil war.
Only 10 EU member states have offered resettlement or humanitarian admission places to refugees from Syria, despite a UN goal of 30,000 places, according to a report from Amnesty International.
“The EU has miserably failed to play its part in providing a safe haven to the refugees who have lost all but their lives,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty's secretary general. “The number of those it's prepared to resettle is truly pitiful.”
He urged “Fortress Europe” to open its borders and offer refuge to Syrians fleeing civil war, reports the Daily Telegraph.
Of the 12,000 places offered, 10,000 have been pledged by Germany. France has offered 500 places and Spain 30. Eighteen EU member states – including the UK and Italy – have pledged no places.
The UK government says it is one of the biggest international donors to Syria. European Union aid to help Syrians stricken by civil war has reached £1.1bn, officials say.
But Amnesty claims the low chance of being granted asylum is forcing refugees to undertake dangerous boat and land crossings, in which many have died.
One 17-year-old boy told the charity that his mother had drowned when their boat had sunk in the Mediterranean. He managed to escape out of a window of the vessel, which was on its way to Italy, as others clung to dead bodies to stay afloat.
The report also claims that some of those who make it to Europe have been mistreated. One refugee said he and his group were stepped on and hit with weapons by the Greek coastguard for three hours. “Then at around ten in the morning, after removing the motor, they put us back in our plastic boat, drove us back to the Turkish waters and left us in the middle of the sea,” he said. Other refugees were found living in “squalid conditions” in Bulgaria with insufficient food, water or medical care.
Around 97 percent of Syria's refugees – estimated by Amnesty to be 2.3 million in total – have fled to five neighbouring countries: Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt since fighting began. ·