Open Letter to the President of the EU Council

A Syrian girl on a flight to be resettled in Germany. JRS is calling on Europe's leaders to expand such safe routes to safety for refugees. (Photo: IOM)

The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) and its members across Europe, are calling upon the President of the European Union, Donald Tusk, to lead member states to agree on common humanitarian action on refugees in their meeting of 14 September. The letter signed by 13 JRS offices and two Jesuit partner agencies calls for EU political measures to back up the warm welcome civil societies have given to refugees across the continent.

"Not so long ago Poland was a major refugee producing country during the Second World War and then in the long years of the Cold War. Today, people from Poland enjoy freedom of movement across Europe as European citizens. As the first Polish leader of the European Council is it not time for you to lead Europe to take united humanitarian action and help refugees fleeing war and oppression?" begins the letter.

"We really urge Mr Tusk to take up the message of this letter and get EU countries truly working together to save lives and bring the value of hospitality back to our continent," says JRS spokesman, Oscar Spooner.

It goes on to call for urgent political measures to save lives now before the onset of the cold winter months:

- Refugees arriving in Europe must be treated with humanity and dignity. Reception facilities need to be improved and made fit to welcome the most vulnerable men, women and children. 

- The EU must enable refugees to travel safely and not have to rely on smugglers. A common humanitarian visa system must be implemented and families must be enabled to reunite quickly and fairly. Finally, comprehensive resettlement programmes need to become a permanent fixture of EU asylum policy.

Finally, the letter calls on Tusk to remind member states of their saving lives and protecting people fleeing war and oppression is our States’ moral and legal responsibility. All member states must fulfil their obligations under the UN refugee convention, European Convention on Human Rights and the EU Charter.

"Europe, because of its history and traditions, should not turn a blind eye to those most vulnerable and in need in protection. Hospitality is one of the most well-known Polish traditions. It can be easily transformed into European value."

Download letter here

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