ECRE and 100 NGO partners covering 34 countries launch a campaign to better assist and welcome Syrian refugees

A Syrian family at Harmanli refugee reception centre, near the Bulgaria-Turkey border« EUROPE ACT NOW » is the large campaign launched on 6 March 2014 by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) together with over 100 partners in 34 countries. The campaign’s website is www.helpsyriasrefugees.eu. It calls on European leaders to protect refugees fleeing the Syrian war.

To date, just 81,000 Syrians have sought protection in the EU, Norway and Switzerland; representing only 3% of the total number of people who have fled. With a death toll of 130,000 and refugee numbers expected to escalate to 4 million by the end of 2014, this war marks one of the greatest humanitarian crises of our
time.

At www.helpsyriasrefugees.eu people can ‘give their voice’ to Syria’s refugees and urge Europe’s leaders to take action to:

1. Give refugees a safe way into Europe
2. Stop pushbacks and protect refugees arriving at Europe’s borders
3. Reunite families torn apart by the crisis

The website allows supporters of the campaign to donate their Twitter feed to the refugees of the Syrian crisis as well as share information about the campaign through their Facebook account. Refugees can share their experiences of fleeing the conflict and attempting to seek protection in Europe with the supporters’ followers and friends. People can also give their voice to protect Syria’s refugees by signing the Europe Act Now petition.

Europe Act Now – Help Syria’s Refugees will run for a period of four months, culminating on World Refugee Day, 20 June 2014. The campaign has already received support from Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament and Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights. On its first day, over 1,200 people and organisations have given their voice to Syria’s refugees.

Switzerland should be concerned with this appeal and take this opportunity to undertake facilitating measures for fleeing relatives of Syrian people already living in Switzerland. A strong gesture on behalf of the Swiss asylum authorities is expected.

Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights stated this week:

In spite of the size and proximity of this human tragedy, Turkey is the only member state of the Council of Europe to have opened its arms fully to Syrians in need, having received alone an estimated 1 million. This amounts to well over ten times the number of Syrians in all other 46 Council of Europe member states
combined.

In the EU it is Germany and Sweden who have shown great solidarity towards Syrian refugees. Germany has pledged to receive 10,000 Syrians through a humanitarian admission
programme, in addition to the more than 18,000 Syrian refugees who have already found their way to the country. Sweden granted permanent residence permits to the 21,000 Syrians received last year.

All other European countries are failing to meet the challenges arising from this crisis. Muižnieks urged states to refrain from using the Dublin regulation for returning Syrian refugees to countries such as Bulgaria,Greece, Italy and Malta, where the asylum systems are already overstretched or are highly dysfunctional. The Commissioner called on Europe to keep its borders open to refugees and to support them in rebuilding their lives.

His report can be found on the following link:
https://wcd.coe.int/com.instranet.InstraServlet?command=com.instranet.CmdBlobGet&InstranetImage=2473117&SecMode=1&DocId=2115608&Usage=2

Additional information provided by UNHCR: New Asylum Applications Syrians in Europe: Key Facts and Figures, 3 March 2014, http://www.unhcr.ie/news/humanitarian-emergency/new-asylum-applications-syrians-in-europe-key-facts-and-figures

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