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Naturefriends Congress calls for revision of the asylum and refugee legislations in Europe

Olomouc, 13 June 2015
During the 22nd international Naturefriends Congress in Olomouc in the Czech Republic, the national Naturefriends associations adopted a common resolution on the dramatic situation of refugees in Europe.

“Instead of offering humanitarian aid – providing temporary shelter, access to education and the opportunity to work – European discussions revolve around how to fight the growing waves of refugees through military means or the police. Taking into account the fact that the European countries are amongst the wealthiest economies worldwide, this is not only inappropriate, but a very cynical way to treat people looking for help, and even contrary to international law,” said Manfred Pils, the president of Naturefriends International who was re-elected by a large majority during the congress.

Europe may have many problems, but to secure the survival of refugees is certainly not one of them. It only becomes a “problem” if those who have made it to the EU despite all deterrents are being barracked in mass camps and have to idly wait for the outcome of their asylum procedures. This makes them a target for populist parties which seek political gain from this politically created situation. The only way to counter this development is a clear, orderly asylum and immigration policy.

The Congress of Naturefriends International thus calls on the European governments to comprehensively revise the European asylum policies. The key aspects of this demand are

  • the right to humanitarian accommodation and to self-determined life,
  • the access to education and training during the asylum procedure,
  • fair access to the labour market
  • and a fair procedure
for all refugees.

“If Europe can afford to pay hundreds of billions of Euros to ‘save’ creditors and banks, a few millions to save refugees ought not be a problem. Current expenses used for military and technical state-of-the-art equipment for the defence against refugees would be better spent on orderly asylum and immigration policies,” said Manfred Pils. Human trafficking can best be fought by offering those looking for help orderly asylum procedures at the EU embassies in their home countries or the opening of an asylum procedure as soon as they officially enter the EU.

Besides immediate revision of the national and European asylum and refugee legislations, Naturefriends request increased national and international funds for development cooperation. The fact that wealthy Europe cannot even spare the internationally agreed 0.7 % of the GDP for development cooperation is disgraceful and increases the dramatic wealth gap between Europe and the countries of the Global South. The means that are currently used for misguided export funding or the construction of “fortress Europe” should rather be invested in a fairer social development and contribute to a sustainable economic development of these countries.

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