Disputes rise among European nations over refugee crisis

By: Sara Adams
Impunity Watch News Reporter, Europe

Migrants line up for food in a migrant camp in Rome, Italy. Image courtesy of Reuters.

EUROPE – The European Union has begun legal action on June 13 against three member countries for not taking in their fair share of refugees. The action will be brought in the European Court of Justice.

The Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary are the countries that may face fines for ignoring EU plans to resettle asylum seekers in the region. This proposal, formed in 2015, was to relocate 160,000 refugees across the European mainland.

In March, Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern suggested cutting EU funds to nations that refuse to comply with the measures.

Hungary has taken hardline measures in its asylum policy. They passed a law that would detain asylum seekers into border camps for them to wait for their cases to be handled.

Under the EU plan, each country is assigned to take a certain number of refugees or migrants from the vast number of those coming in. Poland has not accepted any. The Czech Republic has taken 12 of their 2,000 allotment.

Further south, the populist mayor of Rome, Virginia Raggi, has asked the national government not to send any more migrants into the city. Italy has had an influx of refugees and migrant workers coming in from North Africa for the past three years.

In March, when the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban passed the bill allowing detainment of migrants before asylum, he reinforced his hardline stance on immigration. He claimed that immigration is the “Trojan horse of terrorism,” and argued that this was necessary to “defend [Hungary’s] borders…[So] no one will try to come to Hungary illegally.”

The rising fears among Europe regarding refugees are often based on security concerns. With the recent terror attacks in the United Kingdom, member nations of the EU remain on guard. Anti-immigrant sentiment is by and large in the continent and is an especially popular topic of discussion in local elections.

Immigration advocates push against the rhetoric pushed by anti-refugee leaders around the world. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has called Hungary’s law an act “[promoting] toxic notions of ethic purity”.

Human rights group Amnesty International has also been outspoken against the anti-immigration sentiment of the three countries involved in the EU legal action. The European office director of the group, Iverna McGowan, said that the EU’s action shows that “countries will not be allowed to get away with dragging their feet to avoid accepting refugees.”

She continues, “Solidarity is the key to a fair and humane response to refugees in Europe.”

For more information, please see:

BBC News – Don’t send more migrants, Rome mayor tells Italy’s government – 13 June 2017

BBC News – EU targets Poland, Hungary, and Czechs for not taking refugees – 13 June 2017

New York Times – E.U. Move Against 3 Countries That Don’t Take Refugees – 13 June 2017

ABC News – EU warns 3 countries of legal action over refugee plan – 13 June 2017

Reuters – Rome’s 5-Star mayor calls to half migrants’ flow into city – 13 June 2017

The Guardian – Austria threatens EU funding cuts over Hungary’s hard line on refugees – 8 March 2017

BBC News – Hungary to detain all asylum seekers in border camps – 7 March 2017



Author: Sara Adams

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