Migration and Asylum

Migration is one of the major humanitarian challenges that the EU currently faces. The 2015 European Agenda on Migration proposes several short and long term actions, including measures in countries of origin, transit and destination. Its ongoing implementation shows the prioritisation of security-driven measures, which aim to limit arrivals, counter irregular migration, and facilitate the return of migrants. In addition, the ongoing externalisation of EU migration policies raises concerns regarding its impact on the vulnerabilities of migrants. More needs to be done to ensure that the external dimension of the EU asylum and migration agenda serves to address the needs and rights of migrants in their countries of origin and transit. The EU’s approach should be rooted in the principle of solidarity, and ensure the protection of migrants’ fundamental rights.

In parallel, the limited opportunities for safe and legal migration to the EU drive many migrants to resort to the services of smugglers, embarking on dangerous sea or land voyages. This exposes them to severe risks that increase their vulnerability, often causing significant physical and psychological trauma. In a growing number of cases, the distress experienced on route exacerbates previous trauma suffered in countries of origin and transit due to poverty, neglect, conflict, persecution, and physical or sexual violence. National Red Cross Societies in the EU believe that the Union’s migration, asylum and border policies should prioritise reducing the vulnerabilities of all migrants. As a matter of urgency, the EU and its Member States should ensure that asylum seekers have access to safe and effective legal avenues to reach the EU territory to exercise their right to request international protection.

Supporting all migrants

Working with and for vulnerable migrants is one of the long-standing traditions of the Red Cross Red Crescent. Its approach is strictly humanitarian and focuses on migrants' needs and vulnerabilities, as well as on their potential – irrespective of the migrant’s legal status, type or category. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ (IFRC) Policy on Migration sets out 10 principles which guide the migration work of Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers and staff.

National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies aim to address the humanitarian concerns of migrants in need throughout their journey, and once they are settled. They strive to provide much needed assistance and protection, uphold migrants’ rights and dignity, empower them in their search for opportunities and sustainable solutions, while promoting social inclusion and interaction between migrants and host communities. Activities range from humanitarian assistance, and medical and psychosocial support, to facilitating integration and addressing other longer term needs.

In the EU, National Red Cross Societies have extensive experience in the area of migration and asylum. In addition to providing essential services to all migrants, including especially vulnerable groups like unaccompanied minors, victims of human trafficking, and migrants in an irregular situation, many also engage in advocacy towards their governments, with a view to developing policies and practices that better address migrants’ needs.

The Red Cross EU Office and migration and asylum

By identifying joint policy recommendations stemming from the practical experience of our members, the Red Cross EU Office tries to influence EU policies to reduce the vulnerabilities of migrants. Taking advantage of our location at the heart of EU decision making process in Brussels, we promote European Red Cross Societies’ migration activities, as well as disseminating and mainstreaming their experiences, concerns and policy recommendations before EU decision makers and stakeholders.

We find synergies with the migration-related activities developed by the EU institutions and agencies, and other International and Civil Society Organisations to create strategic partnerships. In addition, we represent our members in the consultative forums set up by EU home affairs agencies, such as the European Borders and Coast Guard Agency (FRONTEX) and the European Asylum Support Office (EASO). Finally, we regularly participate in the European Migration forum to share the activities and messages of National Red Cross Societies in the EU.