Many people are fleeing violence and persecution, trying to find safety in Europe. Too often, they become vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, and some never even reach Europe.
Some resettlement of refugees to Europe has taken place, but an established scheme for protected entry to Europe does not exist. Many are forced to undertake the dangerous journey to find safety. Desperate to leave, they are exploited and abused in return for being transported across the Mediterranean, often in unseaworthy boats, as happened in October off the coast of Lampedusa. This led the European Commission to set up the Task Force Mediterranean, which has suggested a number of ideas on how to reduce the death toll at sea.
In addition, FRA’s report on Fundamental rights at Europe’s Southern Sea Borders suggests ensuring that migrant boats are identified as early as possible and people at sea are rescued. In this regard, the lifesaving potential of the recently-adopted Eurosur Regulation for a European Border Surveillance System needs to be fully utilised. EU and national legislation that punishes facilitation of entry must also not be used to penalise those who assist or rescue migrants at sea. Once rescued, any disagreements among EU Member States of where to disembark migrants should be quickly resolved.
FRA research also points to the need to help strengthen migration, border and asylum management capacities, taking into account the specific needs of women and children, and the need to protect fundamental rights. Here EU funding could help.
Some EU Member States are more affected by arrivals than others. The movement of refugees within the EU should be explored, to allow people who are granted international protection to move where they can best support themselves and become self-sufficient.
Some migrants end up in an irregular situation with limited or no access to basic fundamental rights, as reported in the FRA publication Fundamental rights of migrants in an irregular situation in the European Union. They do not report being abused to the police, due the risk of being detected and returned. This calls for systems of reporting for victims of abuse and hate crime, such as third party reporting or anonymous reporting, as suggested in the practical guidance on apprehension of migrants in an irregular situation, developed by FRA in collaboration with Member States’ experts and the European Commission. Otherwise perpetrators can enjoy a culture of impunity.