ICRC Chief Urges EU To Respect Refugee Law

ICRC Chief Urges EU To Respect Refugee Law

The EU needs to respect refugee law as it copes with migration flows, many of which are triggered by wars, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Thursday.

Peter Maurer underscored that point in an interview with AFP touching on many of the conflicts in which the Swiss-based ICRC is working.

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Generally the last decade has seen a multiplication of conflicts, where “each year we think we may have one less conflict — and then we add two more”, he said.

“One of the consequences of violence in many places is migration, is displacement, is irregular displacements: When we look at the 25 largest operations of ICRC, they come from regions which at the end of the day are at the origin of more than 80 percent of irregular displacements in the world.”

Speaking in Brussels, where he was detailing ICRC’s humanitarian operations to EU officials in charge of funding many of his organisation’s activities, Maurer emphasised that the European Union should uphold its much vaunted commitment to international humanitarian law.

While offering no explicit criticisms — in keeping with the ICRC’s mantra of discretion that helps guarantee its access to all sides in war-torn areas — he noted that irregular migration into Europe was “a very controversial and very delicate issue”.

The most dramatic scenes happened six years ago, when many asylum-seekers streamed out of Syria, but have since reduced under a border-guarding deal done with Turkey and, since last year, the Covid pandemic.

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But numbers are starting to tick up again, particularly in Mediterranean boat crossings

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