The International Rescue Committee (IRC), founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises - helping people to survive and fostering their health, education and economic wellbeing.
The IRC has engaged with the recent European refugee crisis, whereby nearly 55,000 people in search of protection have been left in limbo in Greece, as a result of EU policy decisions. Thousands are living in overcrowded temporary accommodation sites with very limited access to essential health, sanitation, protection services and information. The enormous strain placed on an asylum system already struggling prior to the current crisis has brought the Greek asylum system to breaking point.
European states could lessen the disproportionate humanitarian responsibility placed on Greece by rapidly increasing transfers of those seeking international protection from Greece to other European countries. Although some legal mechanisms do exist, such as the EU’s Emergency Relocation Mechanism and family union transfers under the Dublin III Regulation, utilisation of these mechanisms is inadequate.
In response , the International Rescue Committee, together with Trustlaw (Thomson Reuters Foundation) and Latham and Watkins, organised a discussion on 25 May about accelerating the legal pathways of refugees from Greece. Legal and humanitarian experts, including Professor Hélène Lambert, considered the following questions:
- What current legal pathways exist for the transfer of those seeking international protection from Greece to other EU states, including relocation and Dublin III transfers?
- What are the current barriers to implementation of these mechanisms and how can these barriers be overcome?
- What other creative legal options may exist that could facilitate the transfer of vulnerable groups seeking protection from Greece to other EU states?
- What learnings can be drawn from the crisis - with a view to the current revision of the common European Asylum System?