Help ease refugee suffering through legal entry to Europe

The number of refugees, asylum seekers and internally-displaced people worldwide has reached its highest peak since World War II. At the same time, record numbers of people are dying in the Mediterranean Sea while making perilous sea crossings. On the eve of World Refugee Day on 20 June, it is time to remind ourselves of the need for comprehensive EU-wide solutions that look into the root causes of migration while safeguarding the rights of refugees trying to enter the EU.

"People fleeing turmoil in their home countries continue to die in horrific circumstances in the Mediterranean," said FRA interim Director Constantinos Manolopoulos. "The EU has proposed a way forward for all parties to collectively find ways to address the challenges that the EU and refugees are currently facing. Member States for their part must work together to ensure refugees are not exploited and receive the help they need."

Throughout the EU, the issue of migration and how to tackle the large numbers of people fleeing persecution or upheaval in their home countries continues to be a challenge. Meanwhile, many refugees are dying– so far almost 1900 people this year. They are often victims of smugglers that are financially exploiting the desperate situation of people who need protection.

The recent EU Agenda for Migration is an important step forward. It makes concrete suggestions about how to deal with this challenge. Measures include resettlement and the opening of other legal channels for people in need of protection to reach the EU without having to resort to dangerous crossings. FRA has also proposed increasing the availability of legal avenues for such people. This would help address the plight of the most vulnerable refugees and those whose safety in the current country of asylum is at risk. At the same time, legal migration schemes could be opened up to refugees, thus recognising the fact that people who need protection are often also workers, researchers or entrepreneurs.

FRA has also argued for a fundamental rights-based approach to border management. Cooperation with third countries on managing borders and on fighting smuggling must also respect fundamental rights.

Using biometric identifiers - such as fingerprinting - in migration, asylum and border procedures, should respect fundamental rights. These include: the right to respect for private life; the protection of personal data; the right to asylum; and freedom from inhuman or degrading treatment. FRA is currently looking into the fundamental rights aspects of the use of biometrics.

FRA will continue to support EU and Member States efforts to find common long-term solutions that will contribute to ending the suffering many refugees face before, during and after the time they enter the EU. These include solutions that will respect fundamental rights, and promote the social inclusion and integration of refugees.