News Item

Border treatment still a top fundamental rights concern

Savvapanf Photo ©, 2021
The treatment of migrants at EU borders continues to be a pressing fundamental rights concern. Recurring deaths at land and sea are a tragic reminder of the urgent need for fundamental rights-compliant solutions, says the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) on the eve of International Migrants Day on 18 December.

FRA’s latest migration bulletin draws attention to the increased migration and asylum pressures at the EU’s Belarusian border. It points to the measures the EU Member States have taken to deal with the large number of people arriving at the EU’s external border seeking protection.

The bulletin documents allegations of collective expulsions as migrants are turned away at some of the EU’s land and sea borders without an opportunity to apply for international protection.

In some instances, there are allegations of mistreatment of migrants by authorities.

Other fundamental rights concerns include:

  • Overcrowding, and poor access to clean water and sanitation in detention, reception centres and camps in some countries.
  • The overuse of immigration detention.
  • Placing asylum-seeking children in detention facilities or restricting their free movement.
  • Inadequate access to education for migrant children in some camps.

In addition, more than four people per day on average died so far this year crossing the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe, estimates the International Organization for Migration.

NGOs continue to face difficulties when carrying out search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean, according to FRA’s latest update. It provides a snapshot of operations and developments, including open and closed legal proceedings against crew members or vessels, since 2016 up until 10 December 2021.

The update also contains an overview of vessels that were not immediately allowed to disembark migrants and had to wait at sea for a safe port for over one day in 2021 (as of December).

It also highlights how the pandemic restricted search and rescue work. Rescued people had to quarantine on board the vessels before docking or in ports after disembarkation to prevent any potential spread of Covid-19. Crew members also had to quarantine for two weeks after rescued migrants disembarked.

The bulletin, and search and rescue update both underline the need for urgent fundamental rights-compliant action to stop human suffering. FRA calls for obligations under existing EU and international law to be upheld.

The European Commission, the United Nations and civil society continue to work on lasting solutions. And FRA will continue to support these efforts through its data collection, capacity building and evidence-based advice.

This migration bulletin covers 1 July until 30 September 2021. It looks at the fundamental rights situation in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.

FRA has been publishing its migration bulletins since September 2015.