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Safe pathways to access protection in Europe


Despite the increasing global protection needs, effective pathways to access protection and safety in Europe and the implementation of relevant legal and policy measures both at EU and national level remain scarce. Lacking avenues to access safety, migrants are exposed to great vulnerabilities and dangers along migratory routes to the EU, with many going missing and losing their life. 

European National Red Cross Societies play an important role in engaging with their national authorities and encouraging them to ensure and increase safe pathways to access protection in Europe, while safeguarding the right of asylum seekers to apply for international protection irrespective of the way they arrived in the EU.  

National Societies implement different activities in resettlement, community sponsorship, and humanitarian visas as well as family reunification. The examples* below provide a snapshot of the work done by National Red Cross Societies in this area.  

A NesT mentor group is meeting In Nuernberg, Germany, November 2021. © Gordon Welters

Information and support in family reunification procedures 

The Finnish Red Cross guides people to find the necessary information about the rules and requirements of family reunification. It also works together with municipalities on the distribution of information and finding suitable solutions for refugees and their family members.  

Resettlement: from refugee camps in Niger to Montpellier 

Since 2019, the French Red Cross manages refugee resettlement programmes, that also aim at reinforcing assistance to young refugees from East Africa. 

Community sponsorship: building bridges with local communities 

The NEST Project of the German Red Cross is a special form of resettlement in which part of the responsibilities, including financial ones, are covered by community actors such as citizens, civil society actors, faith-based organisations and other entities.  

Humanitarian visas: a long way to safety  

The Swiss Red Cross ran a humanitarian visa advisory service from 2014 until December 2021. The service used to provide information on the legal framework, the requirements, and the procedure for those wishing to apply for a humanitarian visa. It also assessed the potential for success of individual situations and liaised with the authorities in highly vulnerable cases.

*The examples are included in the public version of the PERCO Handbook on Safe Avenues to access protection in Europe (forthcoming). PERCO is the Platform for European Red Cross and Red Crescent Cooperation on Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Migrants; an initiative of European National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. 

For media inquiries, please contact Eva Oyón on: or +32 2 235 09 22

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