It is urgent to protect and integrate refugees
Today, on World Refugee Day, the European Youth Forum calls on European leaders to act urgently to ensure the protection and integration of young refugees.
Most of the people seeking protection on Europe’s soil are young people, just like us. Violating their rights and depriving young refugees of their youth or childhood, at a time when they are particularly vulnerable and have been through traumatic experiences, must not be acceptable in Europe – a continent that has almost universally accepted human rights as a constitutional basis.
While authorities at all levels are failing in guaranteeing the rights of migrants and refugees, youth organisations and young people from across Europe are playing a crucial role through the organisation of a wide range of initiatives - from leisure activities to setting up schools for children and adults. These initiatives significantly contribute to fostering integration of migrants, enhancing their language and social skills and protecting their rights.
The Youth Forum calls on European leaders, who are responsible for the fulfilment of the rights of migrants and refugees, to follow the example set by civil society and youth organisations, and to act urgently to ensure their protection and integration.
Building walls, erecting fences, organising “push backs” or firing tear gas at the borders are not sustainable measures to “defend Europe”. Nor do they protect the human rights of refugees.
Instead European leaders and governments must lead Europe and promote democratic values by working in solidarity to respect humanitarian and legal obligations to asylum, guaranteeing the protection of the people seeking peace and freedom.
Adequate systems and a common migration policy must be in place in order to give the chance to every refugee to be equipped with the knowledge, qualifications and competences to become active citizens and be fully included in society. Only this way can we safeguard human rights, not only for refugees, but for us all.
Migration is not a new challenge for European society, culture or the economy. We have been through this in the past. We have benefited, and will continue to benefit, if we do it by respecting rights, from immigration and the presence of people of many cultural backgrounds. The Youth Forum urges Europe to recognise and embrace this.