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Red Cross EU Office Conference: Perilous journeys – Vulnerabilities along migratory routes to the EU

Press release

As EU heads of state and government meet to discuss further steps to address the migration crisis – including on EU-Turkey collaboration – at the March EU Council, the Red Cross EU Office will hold the public conference ‘’Perilous journeys – Vulnerabilities along migratory routes to the EU’’ at the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels on Friday 18 March.

Migrants face numerous risks that intensify their vulnerabilities as they make their way to the EU, such as limited access to basic services, arbitrary detention, instances of violence and abuse, as well as being separated from their loved ones, or potentially losing their lives as they embark on increasingly dangerous journeys to reach safety. 

During the conference, high-level speakers from the EU institutions, the Red Cross, and other civil society organisations will discuss some of the specific and often invisible dangers affecting migrants on their journeys to the EU, as well as highlighting concrete ways in which the EU can reduce these risks and provide vital support in response to the humanitarian crisis currently unfolding at its borders. 

Drawing on the practical experience of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies working with and for vulnerable migrants on both sides of the Mediterranean, the Red Cross EU Office’s position paper on addressing the vulnerabilities linked to migratory routes to the EU puts forward a set of tangible recommendations to reduce these perils. 

"These recommendations should be considered as a matter of priority by the EU and Member States,” stresses Dolf Van Muijen from the Netherlands Red Cross. "The Red Cross calls on the EU to stand by its humanitarian obligations and to ensure that all interventions reduce the dangers that migrants are exposed to.”

Conference speakers will also emphasise the specific risks and protection needs of women and children, who encounter even greater vulnerabilities along migratory trails. "Our recent research shows that women and girl refugees face violence, assault, exploitation and sexual harassment at every stage of their journey, including on European soil,” says Gauri Van Gulik from Amnesty International. 

During the event, the new Red Cross EU Office booklet ‘Perilous journeys – Vulnerabilities along migratory routes to the EU’ will be officially launched. Through migrants’ life stories and experiences, the booklet sheds light on some of the difficulties they face during their dangerous journeys to the EU, stressing the urgent need to understand and address the diversity and complexity of each migrant’s vulnerabilities. 

Conference panellists will conclude by iterating distinct operational and policy steps to promote safety and dignity along migratory journeys to Europe, including through the provision of more safe and legal routes to the EU such as resettlement and family reunification, as a first decisive step. With EU-Turkey negotiations primarily focussed on reducing the numbers of people crossing the Aegean Sea, the conference aims to remind decision-makers to put the rights and dignity of migrants throughout migratory trails at the top of the EU’s agenda.

For media inquiries, please contact Eva Oyon on: eva.oyon@redcross.eu or +32 2 235 09 22