Bulgaria bears a “big responsibility” for protecting the European Union’s external borders and should do so “in full respect” of migrants’ human rights, says Europe’s senior minister for migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos.

Bulgarian border police stand near a barbed wire fence on the Bulgarian-Turkish border on July 17, 2014. 

© 2014 Reuters

Speaking in the country’s capital, Sofia, Avramopoulos, the European commissioner for migration, home affairs and citizenship, said Bulgaria had the EU’s support as well as his “personal commitment” as it seeks to police Europe’s outer frontiers.

But can Avramopoulos really be confident that Bulgaria will respect migrants' rights in the way he hopes? Its track record suggests not.

Take the case of 16-year-old ‘Abdullah’ from Afghanistan, who experienced Bulgaria’s “respect” first hand.

“When Bulgarian police saw us, we tried to run away,” he said. “They chased us with dogs and shot at us. There were five police. When they caught us, they started beating us. They kicked me and the others wherever they could reach. They did this for about an hour and threatened us with the dogs. They took my money and mobile.”

Abdullah (not his real name) is one of several migrants and asylum seekers who told Human Rights Watch about summary returns from Bulgaria, and violence both at its borders and inside detention centers in late 2015. These are not new problems; we also documented similar abuses in April and September 2014.

Yet Abdullah’s and hundreds of others’ similar testimonies have fallen on deaf ears at EU headquarters in Brussels. While Bulgaria has the right to protect its borders, it doesn’t have the right to summarily return people to Turkey or physically abuse them. By focusing on border protection, Avramopoulos missed the chance to press Bulgaria on violence against migrants and asylum seekers.

The commission should forcefully remind Bulgaria of EU laws and standards, and urge Bulgarian authorities to investigate these credible reports of abuses and bring them to a halt. Because ignoring Abdullah’s story won’t make the allegations go away, and resorting to violence is no way to manage the refugee crisis.

Author: Human Rights Watch
Posted: January 1, 1970, 12:00 am

Smoke billows behind a building in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on December 3, 2017, during clashes between Houthi rebels and supporters of Yemeni ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh. 

© 2017 Getty Images

(Beirut) – Lawless armed conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) morphed into disastrous trends for the region in 2017, Human Rights Watch said today in releasing its 2018 World Report.

“Failed leadership, failed governments, and failed policies have brought nothing but catastrophe for the youth and future generations of the Middle East caught up in the region’s wars,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The legacy of these wars will be recorded as the ‘shame of the century’ for the Middle East.”

In the 643-page World Report, its 28th edition, Human Rights Watch reviews human rights practices in more than 90 countries. In his introductory essay, Executive Director Kenneth Roth writes that political leaders willing to stand up for human rights principles showed that it is possible to limit authoritarian populist agendas. When combined with mobilized publics and effective multilateral actors, these leaders demonstrated that the rise of anti-rights governments is not inevitable.

The top five trends in the region’s wars included:

  1. Chemical and Other Banned Weapons as the New Normal: The Syrian government, backed by its Russian allies, has used banned chemical weapons, and in Yemen, the United States-supported Saudi-led coalition has used widely banned cluster munitions. Human Rights Watch documented dozens of instances in which the Syrian government used chemical weapons in Syria, including littering Aleppo with chlorine-filled barrel bombs. The Islamic State (also known as ISIS) also used chemical weapons in both Syria and Iraq. The Russian government effectively blocked the only body whose job it was to attribute responsibility and pave the way for sanctions against Syria for using chemical weapons by vetoing the Joint Investigative Mechanism’s Mandate at the United Nations Security Council. Human Rights Watch also documented the Saudi-led coalition’s repeated use of cluster munitions in Yemen – including those made in the US and Brazil. Houthi-Saleh forces made wide use of anti-personnel landmines, despite repeated promises not to use this weapon, which leaves behind unexploded bomblets that harm civilians for generations.

“While the world moves to end the scourge of chemical weapons, cluster munitions, and landmines, the Middle East has made these disgusting weapons the new normal in warfare,” Whitson said. “It’s repellent that arms manufacturers continue to profit off the sale of banned weapons.”

  1. Starving Children During War: Beyond bombing homes, schools, hospitals, and irreplaceable cultural architecture in the region, the Syrian government and Saudi-led coalition have each resorted to blocking aid and impeding critical supplies from reaching starving children. The Syrian government imposes sieges in various regions of Syria, including in so-called “de-escalation zones” such as Ghouta, severely restricting access to food and medical care for the civilian population. The Saudi-led coalition imposed a nation-wide blockade on all of Yemen’s ports and airspace, in a country where malnutrition, cholera, and diphtheria were already ravaging children and have now reached epidemic levels. The UN secretary-general placed the Saudi-led coalition on his annual “List of Shame” for violations against children, despite extraordinary threats and bullying by the Saudi government to be taken off the list.

“It is deeply disturbing that Arab governments are deliberately starving Arab children during wartime,” Whitson said. “The cruelty and barbarism on display in the Middle East should lead to a collective hanging of heads in shame in the region.”

  1. Unlawful Video Executions by Warlords, National Armies Alike: It’s not just ISIS that has promoted itself with gruesome acts of violence and savagery. Human Rights Watch documented Iraqi army soldiers and Khalifa Hiftar-aligned Libyan militias proudly recording depraved acts of torture and executions of detainees. The Egyptian army and police in Sinai staged “shoot-outs” to cover up such executions. Governments failed to investigate, condemn, or appropriately punish repeated unlawful acts by their forces, despite sometimes promising to do so. 

“It’s difficult to square the global outrage against ISIS horrors in the face of national armies and militias that mimic their tactics but receive military assistance from various foreign governments,” Whitson said.

  1. Ran Out of Men, Let’s Use Children: Houthi-Saleh forces resorted to recruiting children to help fight in Yemen. The UN secretary-general placed Houthi forces, as well as other parties in Yemen, on his annual “List of Shame” for their persistent recruitment of children. Human Rights Watch also documented the use of child soldiers in the Syrian conflict by multiple parties, including Kurdish armed groups and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Iran actually recruited Afghan immigrant children to fight in support of Syrian government forces.

“As if slaughtering and starving the region’s children is not bad enough, some are now despicably dragging children to fight and die on the battlefield,” Whitson said.

  1. Arabs Flee the Arab World En Masse: Many people in the Middle East voted with their feet, fleeing their countries in record numbers over the past five years. Millions of Syrians escaped Syria, while the hundreds of thousands who sought refuge in Europe faced a widespread backlash against refugees. Libyans, Iraqis, Yemenis, and Egyptians joined the ranks of millions of refugees and internally displaced in the Middle East who have lost their homes, livelihoods, and communities.

“Is there any greater evidence of just how inhospitable the Middle East has become than the reality of millions of its people fleeing, or trying to flee, disastrous wars – caused by disastrous leadership?” Whitson said.

Posted: January 1, 1970, 12:00 am

(Beirut) – Middle East and North Africa (MENA) governments can respond to the popular demands of the region’s youth for reform by implementing five changes in 2018 to arbitrary, outdated legal systems that infringe upon citizens’ rights and liberties, Human Rights Watch said today in releasing its World Report 2018. Some governments in the region have already embarked on important progress, but most remain hostage to rigid mentalities.

Demonstration outside Parliament on December 6, 2016, with women in white dresses and wrapped in bandages, calling for the repeal of article 522 of the penal code.

© Patrick Baz / AFP

“The people of the region are sick of their governments’ tired excuses for failing to make basic reforms that will dramatically improve everyone’s quality of life,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “While the region is reeling from the untold destruction from armed conflicts in four countries and heightened repression elsewhere, there’s a lot that governments can do to give the young generation a reason to believe that progress is possible in the Middle East.”

In the 643-page World Report, its 28th edition, Human Rights Watch reviews human rights practices in more than 90 countries. In his introductory essay, Executive Director Kenneth Roth writes that political leaders willing to stand up for human rights principles showed that it is possible to limit authoritarian populist agendas. When combined with mobilized publics and effective multilateral actors, these leaders demonstrated that the rise of anti-rights governments is not inevitable.

Here are the top five reforms MENA governments can move to make this year:

  1. “Don’t Want to Marry My Rapist #MeToo!”: Women in MENA made clear that it is not OK to let a rapist escape prison by marrying his victim, a legal loophole that dates to Napoleonic times. Families who agree to such judicially sanctioned marriages do so largely to escape the stigma of a daughter “stained” by rape. Tunisia, Jordan, and Lebanon abolished these horrific laws in 2017, following Morocco and Egypt, which did so in years past; seven other countries in the region where this provision remains – Algeria, Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Syria, and Palestine – should immediately abolish it.

“Shame on every legislator who still thinks they’re doing a rape survivor a favor by allowing her rapist to escape punishment by marrying her,” Whitson said. “The only dishonor that persists when a woman is raped is when governments and societies fail to punish the rapists and provide real support to their victims.”  

  1. “I’m Not Any Man’s Property”: MENA women made some advances on nationality issues in 2017: Tunisia repealed a decree that prevented Muslim women – but not men – from registering marriages with non-Muslims; it also passed a landmark law on violence against women, instituting measures to prevent violence, protect survivors, and punish their abusers. In response to Qatari women’s demands to pass nationality onto their children like Qatari men, Qatar pledged to grant residency to children of Qatari women, providing most but not all rights that non-citizen children have. This half-baked measure still means children of Qatari mothers and foreign fathers won’t have a right to a passport and to travel as Qatari nationals. Saudi Arabia promised that government agencies would end “arbitrary” applications of its male guardianship system, which deprives adult women the ability to apply for a passport or travel without a male guardian’s consent, but has yet to dismantle the entire system; it also promised to finally lift the ban on women driving in June 2018. Fortunately, female legislators in Iraq were able to stop some legislators from undermining women’s rights in Iraq’s personal status laws, including reducing the permissible age for marriage to 8. Even the invisible women in the region – the migrant domestic workers who hail mostly from Asia and Africa – are starting to gain recognition of their rights, with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates passing laws on domestic workers. In 2018, MENA governments should act rapidly to allow women equal rights with men to pass on nationality to their children; abolish whatever remnants remain of the guardianship system; and enact and implement laws on violence against women and domestic workers’ rights. Ending systemic discrimination in divorce, child custody, and inheritance should come next.

“Most MENA women are at the bottom of the global barrel of rights and equality, with governments manipulating stale justifications based on culture and religious interpretations,” Whitson said. “2018 should be the year when women in the Middle East are finally heard and can enjoy the rights and protections like women around the world.”

  1. “Get Out of Our Bedrooms”: Despite urgent problems of poverty, unemployment, failed infrastructure, and crippled economies, many MENA governments nevertheless devoted extensive resources to prosecuting people for their adult, consensual bedroom activities. While nearly every MENA government retains laws that criminalize sex outside marriage and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) sex, Egypt stood out during 2017 by targeting the LGBT community with sweeps of arrests of suspected gay men. Police in the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, and Tunisia, among others, arrested or harassed people for adultery, kissing, and other so-called “morality” offenses. Survivors of sexual violence can be convicted under such charges if police or prosecutors don’t believe their claims of rape, discouraging reports of sexual assault. Iran and Saudi Arabia enforced strict codes on women’s hair covering and dress.

“Plenty of young people in the Middle East know well that when governments profess to enforce morality, they are hiding behind a hypocritical façade to cover up their critical failures in governance,” Whitson said. “What might have worked to placate the masses in the past won’t work anymore, and governments would be wise to bring their out-of-date notions on morality into the 21st century.”

  1. Stop Jailing People for “Insults”: Many MENA government officials jailed people for alleged insults to them or to loosely defined notions of the country’s “reputation,” “national interest,” “culture,” or “religion.” Saudi Arabia went so far as to define “insulting the king,” crown prince, or head of state as a terrorist offense for which the punishment is five to 10 years imprisonment. Bahrain jailed human rights activists like Nabeel Rajab for an “insulting” tweet. Kuwait sentenced a writer to seven years in prison for insulting the state of Qatar. MENA governments should abolish any law that even uses the word “insult” in its definition of a crime.

“It’s the right of people to criticize their government officials on whatever grounds they wish, and officials with a life tenure to power are entitled to no special protections,” Whitson said. “Politics is a tough business, and thin-skinned government officials who can’t stand to be criticized should pitch a tent in some remote corner of an uninhabited desert instead and consider a new line of work.”

  1. “Let me in! Let me out!”: Many MENA governments have treated their countries – and sometimes the countries of others – as massive jails, arbitrarily denying people the right to leave or the right to enter. Saudi Arabia has imposed arbitrary travel bans on many Saudis, and reportedly detained visiting foreign government officials like Lebanon Prime Minister Saad Hariri, while Israel has refused to allow Gazans to exit even for urgent medical treatment or education abroad. Bahrain stripped hundreds of its nationals of their citizenship to punish families of activists. Israel refused entry to people – including Jews – whose political views it doesn’t like, and blocked human rights workers and journalists from accessing Gaza. Saudi Arabia also has banned human rights workers and journalists from traveling to war-torn Yemen.

“The temerity of governments that treat their citizens like property to be held on to or disposed at whim is an insult, to say the least,” Whitson said. “And they only embarrass themselves with what they are trying to hide when they block entry to journalists and human rights workers – because the truth always comes out.”

Posted: January 1, 1970, 12:00 am

SOS MEDITERRANEE rescuers help a Somali woman off their rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB) so she can board the Aquarius. October 11, 2017.

© 2017 ANTHONY JEAN/SOS MEDITERRANEE
(Brussels) – The European Union and its member states were too often willing to set aside human rights in 2017, but there were glimpses of a more principled approach, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2018.

During a year dominated by concerns about the influence of populist extremist parties, Human Rights Watch highlighted developments in 10 EU member states and union-wide developments on migration and asylum, discrimination and intolerance, terrorism and counterterrorism, and EU foreign policy.

“It was clear during 2017 that treating human rights in the European Union as an optional extra won’t defeat the populist extremists or their ideas,” said Benjamin Ward, deputy Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “But the growing consensus among EU governments and bodies around the need to tackle Poland’s assault on human rights and the rule of law shows that an approach based on EU core values can help.”

In the 643-page World Report, its 28th edition, Human Rights Watch reviews human rights practices in more than 90 countries. In his introductory essay, Executive Director Kenneth Roth writes that political leaders willing to stand up for human rights principles showed that it is possible to limit authoritarian populist agendas. When combined with mobilized publics and effective multilateral actors, these leaders demonstrated that the rise of anti-rights governments is not inevitable.

The EU and its member states intensified efforts to prevent arrivals of asylum seekers and irregular migrants, and to shift responsibility for migration control onto countries outside the EU’s borders, notably Libya, in ways that exposed people to human rights abuse.

Despite performing less well than anticipated in some European elections, populist extremist parties exercised an outsized influence over European politics during the year, and entered Germany’s parliament.

Despicable attacks by extremists in Belgium, Finland, France, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, most claimed by the Islamic State (also known as ISIS), together killed more than 60 people and left hundreds injured. Some of the security measures introduced or strengthened during the year compromised human rights, including a new EU directive to combat terrorism that lacks adequate safeguards to protect freedom of expression, and problematic measures in individual EU countries.

Racist, xenophobic, and anti-Muslim sentiment and violence persisted across the EU. Muslims experienced widespread hostility and intolerance. Anti-Semitism, including hate crimes, remained a serious concern.

The EU’s willingness to advance human rights through its foreign policy agenda was often undermined by other interests, including national security, access to natural resources, migration control, and lack of leadership on human rights by the EU’s External Action Service.

Country-specific developments in the EU highlighted by Human Rights Watch include: France’s decision to incorporate some abusive state of emergency powers into regular law; Hungary’s curbs on human rights groups and independent universities; Poland’s undermining of checks and balances on the executive; the ongoing crisis for asylum seekers on the Greek islands; and the failure of the UK government to guarantee rights protection during the Brexit process.

Posted: January 1, 1970, 12:00 am

Summary

Discrimination on grounds of origin or religion remains a significant problem in France. Abusive police identity checks disproportionally affect minorities, which France has failed to address despite a commitment to do so at its last UPR. Migrants and asylum seekers lack access to basic services and are subject to harassment and abuse and France is failing to adequately protect unaccompanied children. Counterterrorism laws undermine fundamental rights and lead to abuse.

  1. Discriminatory Identity Checks

The measures taken by France since its last UPR, such as the adoption in 2013 of a Code of Ethics for the Police and National Gendarmerie, prohibiting police from basing decisions on who to stop solely on physical characteristics, and distinctive signs, have not prevented the use of ethnic profiling by the police when performing identity checks. Recent reports by the French Ombudsman and France’s Human Rights Consultative Commission found that young men from visible minorities are overrepresented in police checks and are 20 times more likely to be stopped by the police. Security Laws adopted in February and October 2017 raise concerns that people who complain about discriminatory checks could face increased sanctions, and that the use of discriminatory identity checks could be expanded. In July 2016, the National Assembly rejected a proposal to require police officers to draw up stop forms on the grounds that it would be too costly, while their use is a simple yet effective way to measure stops and promote accountability, and has shown positive results in other countries such as the United Kingdom. On October 18, 2017, President Macron expressed his wish to restore trust between the police and the population, acknowledging that France is the European country that carries out the most identity checks.

Recommendations

  • Reform the Code of Criminal Procedure to require that all identity checks be based on a reasonable, individualized suspicion.
  • Introduce stop forms and ensure that these forms include information identifying the person stopped and the law enforcement officer(s) conducting the stop, the legal basis for the stop, whether a pat-down or search of belongings was conducted, and the outcome of the procedure.
  • Adopt clear guidance for law enforcement officers with respect to identity checks, including a requirement to inform of the legal basis for the stop and of rights during a stop, as well as instructions on stops and searches of children.
  • Ensure that abuse during police stops is systematically investigated and prosecuted, and hold officers to account.
  1. Treatment of migrants and asylum seekers, including unaccompanied minors

As of late November 2017, approximately 700-1000 migrants and asylum seekers continue to live and sleep outdoors in and around Calais, northern France, including between 100-200 unaccompanied children. In July 2017, Human Rights Watch research found that police forces in Calais routinely spray chemical agents on child and adult migrants while they are sleeping or in other circumstances in which they pose no threat, and regularly spray or confiscate sleeping bags, blankets, clothing and shoes. Despite a ruling in late July by the Conseil d’État, France’s highest administrative court, allowing food and clothing distributions, intimidation of humanitarian workers and disruption of delivery of aid continues. In October 2017, an inquiry conducted by the French administration and security forces’ internal investigations departments at the request of the Ministry of Interior, in response to Human Rights Watch’s July report, found convincing evidence that police used excessive force and committed other abuses against child and adult migrants in Calais, and set out recommendations. Despite the recent findings, as of late November 2017, local organizations report that police violence against migrants and delays in accessing the child protection and asylum systems continue.

Recommendations

  • Implement the recommendations of the October 2017 administrative report into police abuse.
  • Investigate reports of police abuse against asylum seekers and migrants and hold abusers to account.
  • Ensure that unaccompanied migrant children have full access to asylum procedures, guardianship, mental health support, family reunification under the Dublin regulations, and other essential services.
  • Comply with obligations under the European Union reception directive and immediately provide accommodation to all asylum applicants who lack sufficient means to provide for themselves while their claims are processed, from the moment a person indicates an intention to seek asylum.
  1. Counterterrorism laws

Since France’s last UPR, concerns have intensified: France has adopted new laws introducing broad counterterrorism, intelligence and surveillance powers. France had a state of emergency in place for almost two years starting in November 2015. Although the October 2017 Counterterrorism Law formally ended the state of emergency, it incorporated several emergency powers into normal criminal and administrative law. These includes powers that have led to significant abuse, such as the power to order people considered a threat to national security to live in an assigned place and to carry out house searches, with only limited judicial authorization. The powers have given rise to concerns that Muslims may be targeted on the basis of their religious practice, with no evidence pointing to their involvement in any criminal behavior, and have exacerbated longstanding concerns about ethnic profiling in police stop and search practices. The law has been criticized for granting the executive the power to restrict freedom of worship, assembly, free movement and the right to privacy, without adequate judicial safeguards.

Recommendations

  • Use the October 2017 Counterterrorism Law’s annual review by Parliament and sunset clause set for 2020 to carry out thorough evaluations of the implementation of the law, including assessing whether these measures are necessary and proportionate to countering terrorism.
  • Ensure civil society is able to participate throughout the Counterterrorism Law’s review processes.
  • Publish public data regarding measures imposed under counterterrorism laws, and about legal appeals against their use, in order to allow for accountability and transparent discussion of their necessity.
  • Ensure that the powers introduced in counterterrorism laws are not used in a discriminatory way against religious and ethnic minorities and foreign nationals.
  • Amend the law to ensure robust and full judicial oversight and approval of any measure that restrain someone’s liberty and freedom of movement, worship, assembly and right to privacy.

Update: Treatment of migrants and asylum seekers in France

As of December 2017, approximately 700 migrants and asylum seekers, most from Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Afghanistan, continue to live and sleep outdoors in Calais, northern France, including approximately 100 unaccompanied children. They depend largely on humanitarian organizations for access to food and basic essentials such as clothing, sleeping bags, and blankets.

In July 2017, Human Rights Watch found that police forces, particularly the riot police (Compagnies républicaines de sécurité, CRS), routinely use chemical agents on child and adult migrants while they are sleeping or in other circumstances in which they pose no threat. Police also regularly spray or confiscate migrants’ sleeping bags, blankets, clothing and shoes, and sometimes spray their food and water. The French authorities state that they use tear gas. Tear gas causes symptoms such as a painful, burning sensation in the eyes and difficulty breathing.  It is a nerve agent, and frequent exposure has been associated with long-term decreases in pulmonary function and increases in respiratory complaints. According to some asylum seekers and migrants, police have on occasion struck them with batons or kicked them when ordering them to leave food distribution sites or other locations. Such police behavior violates the prohibition on inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment as well as international and national standards regulating the use of force by police.

Police have also intimidated humanitarian workers and sometimes disrupted delivery of aid. Since a ruling in late July by the Conseil d’État, France’s highest administrative court, aid distributions have been allowed to proceed with little or no disruption, although intimidation of aid workers continues. Some showers and water stations have also been installed.

Unaccompanied migrant children struggle to access the asylum system. Barriers to seeking asylum include a lack of information, delayed appointments, and the distance to the asylum office in Lille, 110 kilometers from Calais. Many migrants cannot afford the cost of transport, and those who can risk detention if they travel by public transport.

In October, an inquiry conducted by the French administration and security forces’ internal investigations departments found convincing evidence that police used excessive force and committed other abuses against child and adult migrants in Calais. It set out recommendations for the police to address these abuses, which should be implemented immediately. As of December, police violence against migrants and confiscation of their belongings continue and destruction of their belongings has increased. Delays in accessing the child protection and asylum systems continue.

Recommendations for France:

  • Implement the recommendations of the state administration’s report into police abuse and report back on its progress.
  • Investigate reports of police abuse against asylum seekers and migrants and hold anyone found responsible to account.
  • Ensure that police officers comply with French law and institutional norms, including those relating to the use of force and the wearing of identification badges. Officers who fail to comply with these norms should be disciplined as appropriate.
  • Police should enter into dialogue with humanitarian workers and representatives of migrant groups to facilitate implementation of the Conseil d’État’s ruling requiring the delivery of humanitarian aid.
  • Ensure that unaccompanied migrant children have full access to asylum procedures, guardianship, mental health support, family reunification under the Dublin regulations, and other essential services.
  • Comply with its obligations under the European Union reception directive and immediately provide access to accommodation to all asylum applicants who lack sufficient means to provide for themselves while their claims are processed, from the moment a person indicates an intention to seek asylum.
  • Work with humanitarian and nongovernmental groups to help arrange emergency accommodation for any undocumented migrant without shelter in Calais.
Posted: January 1, 1970, 12:00 am

A migrant walks past the slogans which read "refugees welcome" written on a wall near the former "Jungle" in Calais, France, August 23, 2017. 

© 2018 Reuters
Shortly after he became president of France last year, Emmanuel Macron had a hopeful vision for humanely addressing the country’s asylum crisis. “By the end of the year, I do not want to have men and women on the streets, in the woods. I want emergency accommodation everywhere.”

None of this has happened.

Tomorrow, Macron visits Calais, northern France. More than a year after the closure of the “Jungle” camp in the town, 600-700 asylum seekers and migrants, including 100-150 unaccompanied children, still live outdoors in increasingly desperate conditions. They face police harassment and violence, and are at risk from the cold. This reality sits starkly at odds with Macron’s commitments to a humane approach.

Last summer, Human Rights Watch found that police in Calais used excessive force toward asylum seekers and migrants, routinely using irritant gas, confiscating their sleeping bags, blankets, and clothing, disrupting aid delivery, and harassing aid workers.

The Ministry of the Interior and the prefect have denied any abuse from the police. But in October, the French administration and security forces’ internal investigations departments found convincing evidence that police used excessive force and committed other abuses, and they made a series of recommendations for this to change. These include ensuring officers are correctly using aerosol sprays, wear visible identification at all times, and use cameras during operations and identity checks.

Despite those recommendations, abuses continue. In December, more than 30 asylum seekers and migrants, as well as aid workers, told me police are still destroying and confiscating tents, shelters, and belongings – coinciding with winter’s arrival. As Kuma (not his real name), 17, told me, “When [the police] come, they beat us. They take our sleeping bags, our jackets, every time. They hit me sometimes. They use gas, all over my face. They say, ‘Don’t sleep. Go!’”

True, water and sanitation for migrants in Calais has improved. But emergency accommodation for winter is only opened when the weather is particularly severe, and there are not enough places for everyone.

France can do better.

Macron should call for the abusive policing practices to stop immediately, and for authorities to implement the October report’s other recommendations. Emergency accommodation should always be opened for those who would otherwise be homeless this winter.

The authorities should also commit to ensure migrants have full access to information and asylum procedures without undue delays. Macron’s rhetoric should become reality, and it should start now in Calais.

 

 
Author: Human Rights Watch
Posted: January 1, 1970, 12:00 am
Posted: January 1, 1970, 12:00 am

(Brussels, December 7, 2017) – The European Union is taking important steps to ensure that EU-funded humanitarian assistance reaches people with disabilities, the European Disability Forum, Human Rights Watch, and the Norwegian Refugee Council said today. People with disabilities in humanitarian crises face massive problems in getting even basic services such as food, water, sanitation, shelter, education, and safety protection.

At the 4th European Parliament of Persons with Disabilities on December 6, 2017, Christos Stylianides, the European commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis management, announced a number of measures that would considerably improve access to humanitarian aid worldwide for people with disabilities.

“Aid actors sometimes consult organizations of persons with disabilities, but may not consider that we can also help directly in humanitarian operations. After all, we know what it means to live with a disability and what we need. This must change. Nothing about us without us.

Yannis Vardakastanis

European Disability Forum President

People with disabilities are among the most at-risk groups in humanitarian situations. Yet, they are also among the most overlooked, in part due to insufficient knowledge about including people with disabilities and a lack of clear standards on how to carry out inclusive humanitarian action.

“Aid actors sometimes consult organizations of persons with disabilities, but may not consider that we can also help directly in humanitarian operations,” said Yannis Vardakastanis, president of the European Disability Forum. “After all, we know what it means to live with a disability and what we need. This must change. Nothing about us without us.”

Fifteen percent of the world’s population – or one in seven people – has a disability. This figure is likely to be even higher in emergency situations because of conflict or disaster-related injuries and lack of health care and other services.

In South Sudan, Greece, and the Central African Republic, Human Rights Watch has documented that people with disabilities face neglect, abandonment, and barriers to basic services in refugee and displacement camps. One man with a physical disability in a camp for internally displaced persons in Central African Republic said he needed to crawl into the latrines: “I have to walk with my hands and I don’t have gloves. I must wrap my hands in tissue if I can find it. Most of the time I can’t find it. Honestly it makes me pity myself.”

Research conducted by the European Disability Forum among refugees in Greece also found a lack of access to services, including medical care, and insufficient access to assistive technology. EDF’s national member, the National Council of Persons with Disabilities, is now directly involved in providing support to refugees with disabilities and their families, in cooperation with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.

Stylianides announced that starting in 2018, requests for proposals from the European Commission’s humanitarian agency (ECHO), which funds the operations of humanitarian organizations on the ground, will highlight that applicants must include people with disabilities in their actions. In addition, ECHO will develop standards for addressing the needs of people with disabilities in all EU-funded projects.

Stylianides also promised to consult people with disabilities and their representative organizations in designing and carrying out these initiatives, in line with the principle of “Nothing about us without us.”

“This is a real turning point in global efforts to ‘leave no one behind,’” said Shantha Rau Barriga, disability rights director at Human Rights Watch. “If the EU makes these changes, it could improve the lives of millions of people with disabilities who need aid in emergency situations around the world.”

The EU has a clear responsibility to include people with disabilities in the humanitarian operations it funds, the groups said. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, ratified by the European Union, requires the EU to ensure the protection and safety of people with disabilities in situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies without discrimination. In addition, the EU has endorsed the Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action, making a commitment to eliminate discrimination against people with disabilities in aid programming and policy, and to ensure that people with disabilities have access to aid and services.

To bring the voices of refugees with disabilities to policymakers in the EU, the European Disability Forum, Human Rights Watch, and the Disability Intergroup of the European Parliament organized a roundtable panel in the European Parliament in March. At the event, Nujeen Mustafa, a young refugee with a disability from Syria, addressed Commissioner Stylianides: “It’s kind of a sad fact that in the 21st century, toilets and basic services are considered a luxury for some people. All of us, and especially people with disabilities, deserve much better.”

While governments, donors, and aid agencies are overwhelmed with many competing priorities during emergencies, the needs and concerns of people with disabilities can and should be addressed right from the planning stage, the European Disability Forum, Human Rights Watch, and the Norwegian Refugee Council said. This should include making sure that aid workers, peacekeepers, and local and national authorities are sensitive to the rights and needs for protection of people with disabilities and strengthening the workers’ capacity and skills to identify and include people with disabilities in systems both for preparedness and response to emergency situations.

“As one of the world’s largest humanitarian donors, the European Union has tremendous potential to press its implementing partners to include people with disabilities in their activities and become a leader on the inclusion of people with disabilities in the humanitarian space,” said Edouard Rodier, Europe director of the Norwegian Refugee Council. “We call on all donor agencies to follow ECHO’s example and make sure that the needs of people with disabilities in crisis situations are no longer overlooked.”

Posted: January 1, 1970, 12:00 am

Migrants in Calais gather in the rain for a clothing distribution in an industrial zone on the outskirts of Calais, France. 

© Futuro Berg/Help Refugees, October 2017

It was mid-morning in late June, but the warehouse in Calais was dark, cold, and drafty. I sat on the ground with “Marie,” a tall, slim French woman in her early twenties. Bent forward with a look of concentration, she described how the French police are not only harassing the hundreds of migrants in Calais, they are targeting aid workers too. “They put pressure, stopping what we are doing.”

Marie is one of dozens of aid workers, many of them volunteers, providing vital services to migrants who depend largely on humanitarian organizations for survival.  I followed them over two nights as they distributed bento boxes of food, sleeping bags, blankets, and clothes to migrants who have returned to Calais, still hoping somehow to reach the UK or because they don’t know where else to turn.

This year, International Volunteers Day recognizes those who are first responders in crises, who are there to help in desperate times. I have been able to meet many of them since I started tracking the conditions for migrants in France in October 2016. Most of the aid workers in Calais are French or British–but others come from around the world. Some come for short stints, others have been there for months, working for a variety of local and international associations. They prepare and give migrants food, replace confiscated bedding and clothing, and take migrants who have been injured or are sick to the hospital. Others provide legal advice and support.

Nongovernmental organizations have played an increasingly crucial role since French authorities closed the so-called “Jungle” camp in Calais in October 2016, and migrants and asylum seekers were taken to reception centers across France. The authorities want to prevent construction of another makeshift settlement in Calais, but migrants have returned. Conditions are desperate. Currently, between 700 and 1000 migrants, most from Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Afghanistan, are living and sleeping out in the open, including between 100 and 200 unaccompanied children.

Child and adult migrants have told Human Rights Watch that police routinely spray them with teargas while they  sleep or in other situations where they pose no threat, trying to get them to leave the area. Police also regularly spray or confiscate sleeping bags, blankets, clothing, and shoes, and have sprayed food and water.

The police harassment extends even to humanitarian workers. They described the systematic nature of police actions: traffic tickets for minor infractions such as insufficient windscreen liquid, phones seized when workers are filming police actions, and frequent checks of identity documents. Checks are not unlawful, of course, but it happens so often that there is little--if any--basis to justify them. One aid worker described how a police officer came up behind her at a distribution and said in a deep voice, “Good evening Ms. Smith. Could I please see your documents?” I have changed her name, of course, to avoid causing her further harassment.

Aid workers also described being physically pushed by police, and in mid-July, the police sprayed volunteers when they stopped to help an injured migrant in need of water. When they went to report what happened to them, they felt like they were being interrogated. “It really felt like […] we were criminals,” one told me. Another worker told me that one police officer had asked if she would rather be sprayed or hit with a baton.

Under the best conditions, trying to meet the needs of hundreds of desperate migrants is difficult, requiring long hours, skill, dedication, and compassion.  In the tense atmosphere of Calais, the police harassment is taking its toll.  Some volunteers spoke of the emotional and psychological effect on them. Others have learned to brush it off and say they are far more concerned about the treatment of migrants.

The pattern of harassment suggests that police are trying to intimidate aid workers. The somewhat cynical rationale seems to be that humanitarian workers will leave if enough pressure is applied, and migrants will stop coming to Calais. “When the police are there trying to stop us–migrants leave…” Marie told me. “So, the pressure is working.”

From what I saw, though, most humanitarian workers are not about to give up. As I watched them reload a van at midnight, music blaring, they were in good humor. They remain determined to provide the crucial assistance migrants need to survive, despite the obstacles.

They need support. In October, an independent inquiry by the French administration and security forces’ internal investigations department found convincing evidence that police abused migrants in Calais. One of the recommendations is for the local authorities and police officers to meet regularly with aid organizations to make sure that migrants get the help they need. That is especially important now with winter weather setting in. And that includes providing full information about services available and the asylum process in France.

I’m still in touch with Marie, who, along with others, works tirelessly despite the ongoing police harassment. Today, everyone should celebrate the work these brave people are doing day after day in such difficult conditions.

Author: Human Rights Watch
Posted: January 1, 1970, 12:00 am

A migrant walks after receiving food during snowfall at the Moria hotspot on the Greek island of Lesbos, on January 9, 2017. 

STR/AFP/Getty Images
(Athens) – The Greek government, with the support of European Union leaders, should act now before the onset of winter to end Greece’s “containment policy,” 12 human rights and humanitarian organizations said in a campaign that began today.

The groups began a countdown to the official start of winter, December 21, 2017. They said that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, with the support of EU leaders, should immediately transfer people to improved conditions on the mainland and take concrete measures by December 21 so that no asylum seekers are left out in the cold.

As of November 30, the hotspots on Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Leros, and Kos are almost 7,200 over capacity: 12,744 people in facilities with a capacity of just 5,576. Thousands, including single women, female heads of households, and very young children, live in summer tents, essentially sleeping on the ground, exposed to the cold, damp, and rain as the weather worsens. Some women are forced to share tents and containers with unrelated men, putting their privacy and safety at risk. There is lack of access to clean water, sanitation facilities and health services.

This will be the second winter asylum seekers have had to spend in unsuitable facilities on the islands since the EU-Turkey Deal went into effect in March 2016. Last winter, three men died on Lesbos in the six days between January 24 and 30. Although there is still no official statement on the cause of these deaths, they have been attributed to carbon monoxide poisoning from makeshift heating devices that refugees have been using to warm their freezing tents. In late 2016, a blast likely caused by a cooking gas container killed a Kurdish woman and her young grandchild, also sleeping in a tent in Lesbos.

EU and Greek officials have referred to the EU-Turkey deal as a justification for the containment policy. The policy, put in place as part of the deal, forces asylum seekers arriving on the Greek islands to remain there until their asylum claims are decided, regardless of if there is accommodation capacity or adequate access to services. However, forcing asylum seekers to remain in conditions that violate their rights and are harmful to their well-being, health, and dignity cannot be justified, the groups said. Some who arrived on the islands in the early days of the deal have remained stuck there for 20 months.

As part of the campaign, the groups are teaming up to highlight the deplorable conditions asylum seekers trapped on the islands face; to call on European citizens to get involved; and to monitor and update the public on the response of the Greek government and EU leaders.

Organizations Participating in the Campaign:

Amnesty International

Caritas Hellas

Greek Council for Refugees

Help Refugees

Human Rights Watch

International Rescue Committee

Jesuit Refugee Service

Oxfam

Praksis

Spanish Commission for Refugees (CEAR)

Solidarity Now

Terre des Hommes

Posted: January 1, 1970, 12:00 am

Moria hotspot on the island of Lesbos. Poor living conditions in the camp and overcrowded hotspots, with little to no access to basic services, such as sanitation and proper shelter, are key factors that contribute to psychological distress.

© September 2017 Private/Human Rights Watch
“There is no peace, no safety, no dignity in Moria. It’s worse than jail. We are not treated as belonging to society, as human beings,” Roula, a Syrian mother of two small children told me. She was among dozens of people I interviewed in late September about conditions in the so-called Moria hotspot, a refugee reception and identification center on the Greek island of Lesbos. An Afghan woman with diagnosed depression told me, “I can’t handle this [Moria]. Sometimes I think it would have been better to have been killed in Afghanistan.”

All I needed to do was to enter Moria to understand what they were describing. When I visited in September/October, nearly 5,000 asylum seeking women, men and children lived in a facility designed for 2,000. Summer camping tents, designed to accommodate not more than two people were holding families of up to seven. Today, the situation is even worse: more than 6,000 people live in the same facility, exposed to the cold, the damp, and the rain. And because of the crowded conditions, many women don’t have access to a separate, protected section for single women.

Since the EU-Turkey Statement entered into force in March 2016, and a containment policy has blocked asylum seekers from moving to the mainland, the Greek islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Kos, and Leros have become places of indefinite confinement. Thousands of women, men, and children are trapped in devastating conditions, with many denied access to adequate asylum procedures. Some have been there for more than 20 months.

Every day, I would see little children shivering in their underwear as their mothers poured water over their heads, in a desperate attempt to keep them clean and safe from lice and scabies.

It was nauseating to go to the restrooms and showers, where the stench of urine and human excrement was overpowering. Feces were everywhere.

People I interviewed told me access to running water is limited to 30 to 40 minutes, three times a day, and there is no hot water. One day, I watched as the water tap was turned on. Children as young as four were running barefoot over rocks with bottles in their hands struggling with 5,000 other people to secure water.

Accessing the showers and toilets is particularly difficult for the many people in the camp with disabilities. A 22-year-old man in a wheelchair from Afghanistan told me, "Other people here complain about having to wait in line for food. And for me, I can't even access a toilet." He hadn't taken a proper shower in three months.

For women and girls, going to the toilet or shower often entails overwhelming anxiety about security, worsened by verbal harassment they experience from some men in the camp. A group of men hangs out outside the women’s latrine.

Every person we interviewed told us of fights among asylum-seekers each night and of police standing by, doing nothing to stop it or protect other people. A woman with a high-risk pregnancy told me: “We all have difficulties sleeping. Single men get drunk, they start fighting.”

I saw men, women, and children sitting on the pavement, waiting for another day to pass. I asked Abdulrahman, a 26-year-old Syrian who had been a student in Damascus before the war, what he does all day. He y became silent, turning his gaze away. He looked back and said, "Nothing. I do nothing."

Many people have attempted to end their lives due to the extreme distress and emotional pain they experience. In October, Medecins Sans Frotieres (MSF) reported that between June and September an average of six to seven people per week arrived at their clinic on Lesbos for mental health consultations following suicide attempts, incidents of self-harm, or psychotic episodes.

Mohammed, Roula’s husband, told me that the difficult conditions create a hostile environment: “The pressures from all these stuff in here, they [the authorities] are doing it to push you to do something illegal to yourself or others. They make us have a lot of hatred against each other. It’s a ticking bomb waiting to explode.”

Earlier in 2017, Human Rights Watch documented health professionals’ accounts about the deteriorating mental health of asylum seekers and migrants on Lesbos. We went back in September and October to see whether the situation had improved. We found that it has worsened. The European Union and Greece have taken no steps to address the conditions driving this mental health crisis despite numerous reports from non-governmental organizations.

During a hearing in the Greek Parliament in early-October, where a colleague and I testified about the conditions we witnessed, the parliamentary committee on people with disabilities said they would conduct an official visit to Moria to investigate. They should follow-up on their promise.

More immediate action is needed, though, to end the inhumane and harmful conditions for asylum seekers trapped in hotspots on the Aegean islands. Greece has a responsibility to protect the human rights of people arriving on its islands, and ensure that people with disabilities have equal access to services and protection.

Almost every day since I’ve been back from Lesbos, I receive WhatsApp messages from people I interviewed telling me “The situation has gotten worse. Winter is here now.”

The European Union and its member states need to act, too. Pushing Greece to force asylum seekers to remain in conditions that violate their rights and are harmful to their wellbeing, health and dignity to deter more asylum seekers from coming into the EU through Greece, cannot be justified.

The Greek government with the active support of EU member states and the European Commission, should put an end to the containment policy and immediately transfer asylum seekers to the mainland where their needs for basic services and protection should be urgently met.

Otherwise, the risk of the situation exploding into deeper misery is too great.

Author: Human Rights Watch
Posted: January 1, 1970, 12:00 am
Posted: January 1, 1970, 12:00 am

Since 2014, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have filled a deadly gap in maritime rescue operations, patrolling in international waters close to the 12-nautical-mile line that marks Libyan territorial waters – the area where over-crowded, unseaworthy boats are most likely to be in need. 

Determined to stop asylum seekers arriving by boat after a surge in 2015, European governments enacted plans that trap people in abusive conditions under the guise of saving lives. In October 2016, European forces began training Libyan coast guard forces aligned with the Government of National Accord (GNA), one of the two competing alliances claiming to rule in Libya. In February, Italy (with EU support) accelerated efforts to empower Libyan forces to intercept boats and return people to Libya. Cruelly, they also sought to limit the NGOs’ ability to perform vital search-and-rescue operations.  

Posted: January 1, 1970, 12:00 am

Migrants and asylum seekers gathering around a fire, inside the Moria hotspot on Lesbos island, Greece. Thousands are living under terrible conditions, in overcrowded tents and containers, as the weather worsens. 

© 2017 Giorgos Moutafis
(Athens) – The Greek government, with the support of EU member states, should act now to end Greece’s “containment policy,” 20 human rights and aid groups said today. The policy forces asylum seekers arriving on the Greek islands to remain in overcrowded, unsafe facilities, an urgent concern with winter approaching.

Conditions on the Greek islands have continued to deteriorate in the month since 19 nongovernmental groups wrote an open letter to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, calling on him to move asylum seekers to the mainland, where better conditions and services are available.

“This remains a matter of life and death,” said Jana Frey, the International Rescue Committee’s country director in Greece. “There is absolutely no excuse for the conditions on the islands right now – thousands of people crammed into overcrowded and desperately under-resourced facilities. We are in a race against time. Lives will be lost – again – this winter – unless people are allowed to move, in an organised and voluntary fashion, to the mainland.”

Members of the group recently asked to meet with Tsipras to discuss the most urgent needs on the islands and provide recommendations for addressing this increasingly dire situation. They have received no response.

Over the past month, the Greek government has transferred 2,000 people from Samos and Lesbos to the mainland as a one-time emergency measure. When the government announced this initiative in October, these islands were already 5,000 people over capacity. It was clear then that this measure, while helpful, would not suffice.

“Nothing can justify trapping people in these terrible conditions on the islands for another winter,” said Eva Cosse, Greece researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Greece and other European Union member states should act urgently to remove the obstacles to people getting the care and assistance they need on the Greek mainland.”

As of November 20, 2017, the hotspots on Lesbos, Samos, and Chios are hosting 7,000 over capacity: 10,925 people are staying in facilities with a capacity of just 3,924. Thousands, including single women, female heads of households, and very young children, are being forced to live in summer tents, essentially sleeping on the ground, as the weather worsens. Some women are forced to share tents with unrelated men, putting their privacy and safety at risk. This will be the second winter asylum seekers have had to spend in unsuitable facilities on the islands since the EU-Turkey deal went into effect.

An asylum seeker is seen inside his tent at a makeshift camp on the Greek island of Samos, Greece. 

© 2017 REUTERS/Costas Baltas

“The EU-Turkey deal is condemning refugees and migrants to a second winter in squalor on the Greek islands. Instead of trying to maintain the deal at all cost, European countries and Greece should urgently work together and move asylum seekers off the islands,” said Gabriel Sakellaridis, director of Amnesty International in Greece.

EU and Greek officials have cited the EU-Turkey deal as a justification for the containment policy. However, forcing asylum seekers to remain in conditions that violate their rights and are harmful to their well-being, health, and dignity cannot be justified, the organisations said. As such, the groups have also written to EU member state ambassadors to Greece urging them to immediately call on the Greek government to suspend the containment policy.

The groups urge Tsipras to protect the human rights of asylum seekers trapped on the islands by ending the containment policy, immediately transferring people to improved conditions on the mainland, and making a commitment to ensure that no one is forced to sleep in a tent.

Because the “containment policy” is being implemented in response to the EU-Turkey deal, the organizations highlight the responsibility of the European Commission and the EU member states to address the situation on the Greek islands and to press the Greek government to reverse the policy. EU member states should support the Greek government’s efforts to ensure the safety and dignity of asylum seekers in EU territory, including by expanding safe accommodation and access to services on the mainland.

“In an effort to make the EU-Turkey deal work, the Greek islands have been transformed into places of indefinite confinement for asylum seekers who have risked their lives in search of safety and a better life in Europe,” said Nicola Bay, head of mission for Oxfam in Greece. “The EU and the Greek government need to start putting people’s lives ahead of politics and uphold Europe’s commitment to human rights.” 

The following organizations have signed:

ActionAid

Advocates Abroad

AITIMA

Amnesty International

Arsis

CARE

Caritas Hellas

Danish Refugee Council Greece

Greek Council for Refugees 

Greek Forum of Refugees

Greek Helsinki Monitor

Help Refugees

Human Rights Watch

International Rescue Committee

Jesuit Refugee Service

Lesbos Legal Center

OXFAM

Praksis

SolidarityNow

Terre des hommes

Posted: January 1, 1970, 12:00 am

Unaccompanied children in the Calais migrant camp await interviews with the UK Home Office, October 22, 2016. 

© 2016 ZALMAÏ/Human Rights Watch

Tomorrow, UK parliamentarians will hold a much-needed debate on the situation of migrants and asylum seekers in Calais, one year after the demolition of the so-called “Jungle” camp.

The discussion is critical, because conditions in Calais remain grim. With winter looming, between 700 and 1,000 migrants continue to sleep in the open and rely heavily on distributions from humanitarian organizations to survive. The total includes at least 100 children like 17-year-old “Daniel”, an Ethiopian boy I interviewed in June. Bright and friendly, “Daniel” told me he’d had no dinner the previous day because he had to flee police spraying migrants with tear gas. Two days before, he said the police took his blankets and sleeping bag. He’d only had those blankets for one day.

Many of the migrants told similar stories – how police regularly spray them in the face with tear gas while they sleep, and spray or confiscate sleeping bags, blankets, clothing, and sometimes food and water. UNICEF and an independent investigation have recently warned that children in Calais are also at risk of sexual exploitation, violence, and trafficking. Last week, a French government investigation into our findings found them credible.

Tomorrow’s debate should focus on what Britain can – and should – do to help the children in Calais. Children remain in France even though they may be eligible to come to the UK under European asylum regulations based on family ties, a recent report found. There are legal channels to bring children from Calais to the UK, but even the family reunification process has been slow, arbitrary, and lacking in transparency. Last year, Human Rights Watch found that some children with UK family ties were not brought to the UK following the camp’s closure.

For children in Calais who do not have family in the UK, until February a humanitarian provision in UK immigration law known as the “Dubs Amendment”, gave the UK discretion to admit them if they were unaccompanied asylum seekers or refugees. However, the UK applied strict age and nationality criteria in implementing this provision, and closed admissions in February. In total, the UK eventually allowed 480 children to be brought to the UK under Dubs, all in 2016, from France, Italy, and Greece.

The UK can do better than this.

It’s time for the government to stand up and help these children. Reopening the Dubs scheme to help vulnerable children would be a welcome first step. Authorities should also make every effort to ensure that the family reunification process functions smoothly and swiftly.

Author: Human Rights Watch
Posted: January 1, 1970, 12:00 am