Forced migrants in Europe: living in limbo

On the occasion of the World Food Day (Oct. 16) and the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (Oct. 17), Jesuit Refugee Service Europe draws atten­tion to the desperate situation of destitute forced migrants in Europe. All over the European Union we accompany migrants who for good reasons cannot return to coun­tries of origin but are completely excluded from social services in the countries where they are living.

“These persons are living in limbo, in an impasse, without any perspective,” says Stefan Kessler, Policy Officer with JRS. The organisation is currently running a research and advocacy project on the situation of these destitute migrants.

“Our findings clearly show that it is not fate but policies of state authorities that com­pletely exclude certain groups of migrants from any official assistance and leave them in distress and penury,” continues Kessler, “access to housing, to health care, education, social assistance and work the situation of these migrants is especially worrisome.

In Romania even recognised refugees who have a right to remain in the country may find themselves on the streets without any assistance. In Sweden, failed asylum seekers must pay excessively high rents for a place to sleep in already overcrowded apart­ments.

Portuguese law guarantees everyone access to health care, but in day-to-day practice it can be very difficult for migrants to be received in hospitals outside of emergency care.

In Germany, only a few Laender have clear rules guaranteeing every child access to education. These policies are clearly violating the human rights of the affected migrants and cause severe social problems.

JRS appeals to governments of EU Member States to immediately change their policies in order to ensure that everyone has access to basic social rights such as housing, edu­cation, social assistance or work. The European Union, in turn, must develop stricter reg­
ulations forcing governments to guarantee access to those rights. In particular, the European Parliament is encouraged to set up an investigation into the situation of des­titute forced migrants in the EU Member States and publicly take a firm stance on this issue.

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