Eucouncil Refugees

A plea to European leaders ahead of the European Summit on the refugee crisis

MEDIA RELEASE

23 September 2015, Brussels – The worst thing that can happen when there is a crisis, is that we panic and start fighting. The highly complex and tense situation of tens of thousands of refugees and migrants arriving in South-Eastern Europe elicited so far some of the worst reactions by governments, and some of the most overwhelming and generous outpour of compassion by citizens and civil society.

This is not the moment to point fingers. This is a time for courage and action. The fact, that we are watching these dramatic images of floods of people arriving from the comfort of our homes and offices is pure luck. We could be those young families fleeing on dinghies, or those young men refusing to be drafted into a nonsensical war. This is why there is a European Union. It is to stand side by side and act together.

Messages from the leadership greatly influence public opinion. Therefore we ask the heads of States and Governments of European countries to demonstrate true statesmanship by showing compassion and agree on a way forward to offer refuge to those fleeing unviable conditions in their home countries, or already setting off from overcrowded refugee camps in Turkey or elsewhere.

What does it mean to be a leader? It is not a title or power, but the ability and willingness to observe, orient and act in times of challenges with compassion and reason, free of fear and prejudice.

The people who are arriving need accessible information, they need swift orientation to safe and warm and clean places they can find shelter at, and especially children need to be reassured. Let’s not forget, these children and young people have the potential to be the future of Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq or Eritrea or Libya. They can become the doctors, teachers, businessmen and leaders of their countries. Let’s support agencies, governments and civil society organisations in Europe and in those countries who are already offering refuge to hundreds of thousands of people. If we invest now in welcoming them in the most decent conditions we can offer will cost in the short term, but we will reap the benefits in the long run.

We have the historic opportunity to show what Europe is made of. Let’s do the right thing!

/ENDS/

For further information, please contact:
Ana Pérez, Communication Manager  +32 2 500 56 93   aperez@coface-eu.org

Note to the editor
COFACE is a network of civil society associations representing the interests of all families. COFACE’s areas of work include social/family policy, education, disability, gender equality, migration, consumer issues, and also protection of children online, privacy, data protection and reflections on technological developments and how they may impact families. More: www.coface-eu.org