Eighteen associations committed to protecting the health of migrants and refugees have launched an appeal to European governments and to members of the European Parliament.
THE NEW EU PACT ON MIGRATION AND ASYLUM BRINGS THE RISK OF NEW MEGA-RECEPTION CENTRES SUCH AS MORIA
Large reception centres, such as the Moria camp, opened in Greece and Italy to implement the so-called Hotspot Approach, have devastating effects on the mental health of refugees and asylum seekers. The new Pact on migration and asylum, far from being ‘a new beginning’, as it was defined by the European Commission when was launched last September, risks fuelling the model of large reception centres, especially in countries called on to control the external borders of the European Union. This is what eighteen associations denounced in an issues paper promoted by ASGI, INTERSOS, MDM, MEDU, MSF, SANITÀ DI FRONTIERA AND SIMM and addressed to European institutions and governments.
Strong overcrowding; geographical and social isolation; a long-term stay while waiting for the completion of the legal procedures for issuing a permanent visa; difficulties accessing public health care services and psycho-social and/or legal support; social degradation; violence and illegality episodes. These above are some of the characteristics of large reception centres (>1,000 people) that a recent study by the humanitarian and medical non-governmental organization MEDU proved to be places favouring the most serious forms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The consequences of the above-mentioned reception approach on mental and physical health constitute a formidable obstacle to the integration paths of migrants and refugees in the host countries entailing heavy human, health, social and economic costs. The new Pact is now being examined by the European Parliament and the European Council, and the EU home affairs ministers discussed it on Monday 14th December 2020 by videoconference; in the meanwhile, the signatory organizations urged European governments and MEPs to learn from the failed experiences in the recent past.
Nowadays, an effective and fair redistribution of asylum seekers among European countries along with an exhaustive and timely assessment of asylum application are needed. It is necessary that the European Union abandon the mega-centres/hotspot model and, in turn promote policies prone to favour reception in small-scale facilities, integration into the social environment, provision of appropriate services, and genuine inclusion for the benefit of hosted migrants and refugees as well as for the receiving societies.
A Buon Diritto, ACLI, ActionAid Italia, ARCI, Associazione per gli Studi Giuridici sull’Immigrazione (ASGI), Centro Astalli, Comunità di Sant’Egidio, Coordinamento Nazionale Comunità di Accoglienza (CNCA), FCEI, FOCUS – Casa dei Diritti Sociali, Intersos, Médecins du Monde (MDM), Medici per i Diritti Umani (MEDU), Medici senza Frontiere (MSF), Oxfam Italia, Refugees Welcome Italia, Sanità di Frontiera, Società Italiana di Medicina delle Migrazioni (SIMM).
The issue paper of the associations