Refugee crisis: Europe's leading newspapers urge governments to act now in open letter

Europe must show that it is built on the principles of solidarity, equality and liberty

Wednesday 16 September 2015 10:16
Comments
Hungarian policemen seizing a refugee family resisting being sent to a camp in Bicske
Hungarian policemen seizing a refugee family resisting being sent to a camp in Bicske

Europe is facing the worst refugee crisis the world has seen since the Second World War. With the Syrian conflict now in its fifth year, displaced people are increasingly turning to our continent for protection and help. More and more are dying in their desperate attempts to flee war and persecution. Yet with each passing month Europe has done too little, too late. We are experiencing a refugee catastrophe, but unwillingness to act has also unveiled a serious political crisis.

Despite our troubled past, Europe must now show that it is a united continent built on the principles of solidarity, equality and liberty.

On the 14th of September, ministers of the EU member states will meet in Brussels to negotiate solutions to the crisis. Today, Europe’s leading newspapers unite in an appeal by which we urge our leaders to grasp the opportunity and to take decisive action to deal with this humanitarian tragedy and prevent further loss of life.

We call on our political leaders to:

Establish simple, safe and practical ways for refugees to seek asylum in Europe without risking their lives to come here. This is the best way to eliminate human trafficking and reduce casualties.

Show solidarity toward the countries at Europe’s outer borders, where refugees and migrants first arrive, by funding and organising a safe, dignified and coordinated reception system at Europe’s edges with a fast and fair assessment of applications for asylum.

Suspend the Dublin agreement which return asylum-seekers to their first point of entry, so long as large numbers of refugees continue to arrive in Europe.

Support a fairer distribution of refugees among EU member states. All European countries must participate in a relocation programme far more ambitious than we have seen so far. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, has suggested that Europe takes responsibility for 200,000 refugees. This should be the starting point of the discussions.

Increase financial and humanitarian aid to Middle Eastern nations affected by the Syrian conflict. An aid package must cover not only the immediate needs of food, water and medical supplies, but should commit Europe to helping rebuild local communities in the long term, thereby offering people in the Middle East hope and opportunities for a safer and better future in their own countries.

Put increased pressure on other key international players, such as Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States, to do their utmost to bring the parties in the Syrian conflict together for UN-led peace negotiations.

Our leaders must show courage and insight if they are not to fail this test of our shared European civilization. We need to act, and we need to act now.

Bernd Ulrich
Die Zeit, Germany

Ezio Mauro
La Repubblica, Italy

Antonio Caño
El Paìs, Spain

Johan Hufnagel and Laurent Joffrin
Libération, France

Amol Rajan
The Independent, UK

Oliver Duff
i, UK

Lisa Markwell
The Independent on Sunday, UK

Christian Broughton
independent.co.uk

Andreas Paraschos
Kathimerini, Cypres

András Murányi
Népszabadság, Hungary

Matúš Kostolný
Denník N, Slovakia

Adam Michnik
Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland

Jan Helin
Aftonbladet, Sweden

Christian Jensen
Information, Denmark

Anna B. Jenssen
Morgenbladet, Norway

Click here to sign The Independent's Change.org petition

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in