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Monday 2 March 2020

Urgent request to invoke European Directive on Temporary Protection

[PDF version]

To M. Charles Michel
President European Council
Rue de la Loi 175
B-1048 Bruxelles
Twitter @eucopresident
Fax +32 22816934

Cc: Sir Tim Barrow, UK Ambassador to the EU
Twitter @UKMisBrussels

2 March 2020

Dear M. Michel,

We are extremely concerned at the chaotic scenes on Europe’s frontiers, as desperate Syrian refugees attempt to enter Greece and Bulgaria, following Turkey’s recent decision to open its borders with the European Union.

The humanitarian catastrophe in Syria has had enormous consequences for its neighbours over the last 9 years, with Turkey Lebanon and Jordan bearing the largest burden of refugees; and among European countries Greece, and Italy.

With the latest massing of Syrians fleeing from Turkey, it is clear that the EU–Turkey Statement has broken down. Europe has reached the threshold of risk envisaged by the Directive’s creators—i.e. ‘a mass influx of displaced people’ with a risk of the standard asylum system in any one country being unable to cope with the demand. The basis of the Directive is the principle of solidarity among member states, and the sharing of responsibility for any emergency, across the Union.

All member states except Denmark have signed up to the Directive. We are copying in our Ambassador to the EU, Sir Tim Barrow, to remind our government of its responsibility.

You, M. Michel, as President of the European Council, have primary responsibility for making the crucial decision. We ask you to take all necessary steps (including consultation with the Council of Ministers) to trigger the Temporary Protection Directive immediately and as a matter of emergency.

This could open the borders to Syrian refugees and displaced people, put an end to the cruel and chaotic situation facing them, and establish an orderly and equitable process to shelter them while the risk to Syrian citizens from their own government remains. The scale of the crisis—the humanitarian tragedy of the 21st century—demands no less of us all.

Yours sincerely
Batool Abdulkareem
Syria Solidarity UK