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Promoting Human Rights of Refugees in Europe

by Refugee Rights Europe
Promoting Human Rights of Refugees in Europe
Promoting Human Rights of Refugees in Europe
Promoting Human Rights of Refugees in Europe
Promoting Human Rights of Refugees in Europe
Photo credit: Filippo66
Photo credit: Filippo66


Today, we wanted to update you on our ongoing campaign to end pushbacks and rights violations at borders across Europe.

These pushback operations, which have grown in recent years, lead to serious human rights violations against prospective asylum seekers, and breach multiple international and European laws.

Our campaign to end these illegal pushbacks is entering a new phase. We're gathering existing evidence in the sector, tracking news coverage, and sharing our policy recommendations so that we can collectively make the case for an end to pushbacks. 

Have a look at the resources we've compiled on our website:


Pushbacks, detention and living conditions in Italy

Our new report looks at Italy’s failure to implement its legal responsibilities around non-refoulement, detention conditions, and inhuman and degrading treatment.

We furthermore submitted evidence to the UN Committee against Torture ahead of its review of Italy, presenting our concerns over the country's implementation of Articles 3, 11 and 16 of the Convention.

In particular, we raised the alarm over Italy’s worrying record including:

  • Its failure to uphold the principle of non-refoulement through summary pushbacks
  • Prolonged and arbitrary detention characterised by a lack of procedural and legal safeguards
  • Substandard living conditions for asylum seekers and displaced individuals in reception facilities and camps


New report: Access to asylum along the Balkan route

The formal closure of the “Balkan route” in 2016 was part of a strategy to hinder the movement of refugees through the Balkans and into Western Europe.

Despite this, over 65,000 people have entered the region since 2018, using alternative and often more dangerous routes.

Our latest report looks at access to asylum and the conditions for asylum seekers in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia.


New on our blog

  • We challenge narratives that frame the arrival of prospective asylum seekers to the UK by boat as a “threat”, and we ask what a more humane policy would look like.  Read the blog.
  • Resuming evictions of refugees during the Covid-19 crisis is a major problem, writes Michael, a former Calais camp resident who now has refugee status in the UK. Read his blog.
  • Loraine Masiya Mponela, the chairperson of the Coventry Asylum and Refugee Action Group, reflects on the challenges faced by asylum seekers and undocumented migrants during the pandemic. Read her blog.


As always, none of this work would have been possible without the incredible support from donors like yourself. Thank you infinitely for all of your ongoing support, and please take care.

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Credit: Tessa Kraan
Credit: Tessa Kraan

We hope you are keeping safe and well in these challenging and uncertain times.

At Refugee Rights Europe, we have been as busy as ever, calling for a Covid-19 response that includes displaced people and refugees across Europe. Read on to find out how. 

Our response to the Covid-19 crisis  

To develop a truly effective response to the ongoing and unprecedented coronavirus crisis, we cannot leave anyone behind.

That is why we have been leading or joining advocacy efforts to include displaced people in the Covid-19 response in Greece, France, Italy and the UK.

  • We highlight the impact that Covid-19 could have on displaced people across Europe, many of whom do not have access to basic healthcare, in our analysis
  • We also raised concerns about the Covid-19 response in northern France in an open letter to the European Union, the United Nations and the Council of Europe. We then joined more than 100 associations in Italy calling for a decisive response there. Find out more about our response in Italy
  • Now more than ever, it is essential that we relocate children from the Greek Islands. This is what we have been calling for in our latest campaign, along with more than 90 NGOs and frontline groups. Relocating children will not only protect them, it will also address Covid-19 risks in Europe more broadly. Learn more about the campaign.

Influencing the United Nations

The evidence we submitted with frontline partners to UN Committees in recent months is making an impact on international policy recommendations:  

  • In line with our submission, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights made recommendations to Belgium to guarantee a dignified standard of living for asylum seekers. They expressed concern about the persistent discrimination against displaced people, including with regards to access to housing, health and to adequate nutrition. 
  • Similarly, the Committee on the Rights of the Child regarding refugees in Greece made recommendations about the EU-Turkey statement and the EU Hotspots approach which followed the evidence in our own submission. 

New analysis on our blog

As always, none of this work would have been possible without the incredible support from donors like yourself. Thank you infinitely for all of your ongoing support, and please take care. 


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First of all, on behalf of the RRE, a very happy new year! Thank you for your continued support, making all of our work possible.

In this update, you'll find out about our latest activities over the past months, which were characterised by increased work at the European Union level, where we continued to call for human rights centered asylum and migration policies. 

New report: Displaced people in Belgium

Our latest report sheds light on displaced people’s lives in limbo in Belgium. Many hope to reach the UK to seek asylum while others struggle to navigate Belgium’s asylum “labyrinth”.

The report finds evidence of sweeping human rights violations of displaced people and refugees. It builds on RRE’s previous field research, as well as desk research and evidence from frontline partners: La Plateforme Citoyenne de Soutien aux Réfugiés, Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen, and Refugee Community Kitchen. Read the report here.

Spotlight on Calais women in the European Parliament

On 5th December, a high-level roundtable at the European Parliament discussed the situation of women and girls in displacement in northern France.

Hosted by Jackie Jones MEP, Claude Moraes MEP and Refugee Rights Europe, the meeting looked at collective action that could be taken in solidarity with women and girls. In the new year, RRE will launch a joint call for action, hoping that the backing of MEPs and experts will help bring about much-needed change. 

Over 100 MEPs co-sign letter to end humanitarian crisis in Greece

Aimed at the EU Council of Ministers, the letter describes the human rights violations and complete lack of basic protection and services in the overcrowded EU hotspots on the Greek Islands. It calls on Europe’s leaders to immediately improve the living conditions and relocate asylum seekers to other member states.

The letter was initiated by MEPs who had visited the Greek “Hotspots” of Samos and Lesvos with Refugee Rights Europe earlier this year. This is a major outcome of our series of field trips with MEPs to key migratory nodal points in Europe, showing them the lived realities of displaced people first-hand so they can take action. Read the letter here.

France falls short of implementing the European Asylum Acquis

We met the European Commission’s Asylum Unit to draw their attention to the shortcomings in France’s attainment of the asylum acquis in northern France and Paris.

As a result, our concerns will be shared with French officials, and the Asylum Unit is now considering a visit to northern France to witness the situation themselves.

In other news

Magid Magid wrote to the Italian and French Interior Ministers calling for urgent change, following our field visit with him this autumn.

Our partners on the ground in Lesvos shared an update on the situation for displaced people.

Our intern, Bana, blogged about what she’s learned in her experience as Programme Officer at RRE.

Those were our key updates for the time being. We hope you enjoyed learning more about our work, and we're really grateful for your support, making it all possible. 

Please do consider making a small donation again, or perhaps consider inviting your friends and family to do so. 

Kindest regards,

Marta and the RRE team 


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New report
New report

We hope this message finds you well! Here at Refugee Rights Europe, we've spent the last few months advocating for the rights of refugees and displaced people across Europe. We've outlined some of our key achievements below, which include some positive progress - none of which would have been possible without the support from generous individuals like yourself. Thank you for your invaluable support. 

New report highlights plight of children stuck in legal limbo 

After the recent UK-French ministerial ‘refugee crisis’ talks regarding asylum-seekers’ attempts to cross the English Channel, we released a new report with first-hand accounts from Calais and Dunkirk. 

Our field research highlights cases of extreme neglect and a failure to uphold a duty of care towards unaccompanied minors in the area. It calls for expanded safe and legal passageways and a commitment to relocating children from European locations to the UK.

New blog for World Humanitarian Day

On World Humanitarian Day, 19th August, RRE researcher, Elizabeth Hobbs, published a blog on the worrying rise of criminalisation of solidarity occurring across Europe. The blog highlights the cases of Sarah Mardini and Sean Binder who were both arrested in Greece in September 2018, after trying to save lives at sea. Read the blog here.

Committee Against Torture adopts RRE recommendations

The Committee Against torture released its recommendations for Greece following on from its review of Greece. We were pleased to see several of the concerns and policy recommendations raised by RRE and partners included in the 'concluding observations', along with a strong condemnation of the Greek government's current treatment of asylum seekers in detention, as well as its response to gender based violence and the criminalisation of solidarity. You can read the concluding observations here

French human rights authority responds to our concerns in northern France

Following a disconcerting meeting with individuals in detention in northern France earlier this year, we passed on their messages to the French human rights authority Jacques Toubon (Défenseur des droits), and asked him to take urgent action. 

We received a response from Mr Toubon who confirmed that our concerns have been addressed in both a report outlining health risks for asylum seekers, and in direct communications with the Ministry of the Interior.

EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee adopts RRE recommendations 

We were pleased to see our recommendations included in the final report of the EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee on its inquiry on Brexit implications for refugee protection and asylum policy. 

Following our recommendations, in both our written and oral submissions, the Committee:

  • Urged the government to ensure that family reunion remains available once the UK leaves the EU and in the event of a no-deal scenario.
  • Called on the UK government to ensure that human rights considerations must be at the heart of any future agreements with third countries on readmission or cooperation.
  • Urged Ministers to moderate the language they use when discussing asylum issues.

Read our full submission here

Our new website 

Make sure to check out our new website, which contains new content and additional resources! www.Refugee-Rights.Eu 

As always, please don't hesitate to contact us should you like to receive any additional information or updates. Once again, on behalf of the entire Refugee Rights Europe team, thank you ever so much for your invaluable support!

Sincere regards,

Marta and the RRE team 

Our Executive Director and Chair of the Board
Our Executive Director and Chair of the Board
Greek islands - Photo credit Tessa Kraan
Greek islands - Photo credit Tessa Kraan
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Youth Welfare Officer event in parliament
Youth Welfare Officer event in parliament

Dear friends,

The past three months have been busy here at the RRE headquarters! We are, as always, incredibly grateful for your support which makes all of our work possible.

Standing up for Young Asylum Seekers in the UK

In late June, RRE handed in an open letter to the Home Secretary signed by 38 cross-party MPs, 31 NGO’s, civil society organisations, and experts, calling for Youth Welfare Officers to be placed in asylum accommodation in the UK. This is a clear sign that our proposal is already gaining significant support.

New briefing on the Common European Asylum System (CEAS)

In the wake of the EU elections, we prepared and launched a new briefing outlining our key recommendations for the reforms of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS). Read our latest blog here and the briefing here.

RRE gave evidence to the House of Lords on asylum and migration

Our Advocacy & Policy Manager, Alice Lucas, delivered oral evidence to the House of Lords EU Home Affairs Subcommittee inquiry into the UK-EU relationship on asylum and migration post-Brexit. You can watch our oral evidence session here.

In other news 

We moreover submitted a joint report alongside Greek Helsinki Monitor and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) ahead of the Committee Against Torture’s review of Greece. We also co-signed an open letter alongside 16 actors across civil society and academia, calling for urgent action on the unsuitable conditions in places of detention in Greece.

As part of our work relating to Northern France, we sent an appeal to the French Defender of Human Rights and the General Controller of Places of Deprivation of Liberty, asking them both to investigate the situation in the detention centre in Northern France, and to take a firm human rights stance vis-a-vis the French government.

Last but not least, we were delighted to join the Detention Forum, a network of civil society organisations calling for an end to indefinite detention in the UK, and the Lift the Ban coalition alongside over 80 civil society organisations calling for asylum seekers to be given the right to work in the UK.

Thank you!

We would like to thank you once again for your invaluable support, and we hope you're having a wonderful summer!


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Organization Information

Refugee Rights Europe

Location: London, Greater London - United Kingdom
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @Refugee_RE
Project Leader:
Marta Welander
London, United Kingdom

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