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Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Europe: High Commissioner calls on Europe to "Make asylum fair, not fast"

Ruud Lubbers, UN High Commissioner for Refugees in The Guardian:

We need to step back from the notion that Europe is being flooded with asylum seekers. In 1992, around 680,000 people claimed asylum in the 25 states that now make up the EU. Last year, the number was under 350,000. This is manageable, but still the crisis rhetoric continues - often fuelled by thinly disguised xenophobia and political opportunism.
Everyone pays lip-service to the notion that genuine refugees deserve protection. The reality is that Europe's asylum systems do not always afford refugees even the chance to state their claim.
We also need a system to manage economic migration sensibly. By legitimising those we want - instead of secretly profiting from their illicit labour in our orchards and hospital wards - we can take back control from people traffickers.

A policy built on exclusion is not only morally reprehensible, it is also impractical: it will simply push all forms of migration, including refugees, further underground.

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