'Europe, your decisions concern life or death'

'Europe, your decisions concern life and death. Show leadership and show that you stand for the rights and values, which are ​the founding principles of the European Union for over 60 years.' That's the message of a letter on behalf of 156 NGOs, including Terre des Hommes. The organizations are worried about the lack of protection of refugees and migrants and the fact that Europe is not respecting the national and international law.

Humanitarian aid / Refugees

Dear Heads of state and government ,

We are civil society organisations, which are supported, collectively, by hundreds of thousands

of people across Europe, working with those less fortunate to alleviate poverty, provide

essential aid and defend people’s rights.

With xenophobic populism on the rise across Europe and the globe, this is an appeal for

leadership to uphold the rights and values that have been founding principles of the European

Union for 60 years. Together, we need to prevent legitimate concerns about migration

management from being hijacked and used to derail the European project.

On a daily basis, we witness widespread solidarity with people who are fleeing brutal wars,

persecution, human rights violations, instability, and extreme poverty. Throughout Europe and

the world, we see people welcome refugees and migrants into their communities, open up their

homes and donate money, materials and time to help. Only this week, many of them travelled to

Brussels to call on you to uphold your commitments to relocate asylum seekers from Greece

and “Bring Them Here”. We also hear people expressing their concerns about the future, asking

their governments to show leadership and respond to the arrival of large numbers of people.

We take pride in the European commitment to international law and human rights and we look

to you to foster and promote this commitment at home and abroad. Yet when increasing

numbers of people in need arrived in the summer of 2015, Europe failed to come together and

respond with humanity, dignity, and solidarity. To this day, European nations are unwilling to

respond in in line with their obligations under international and European law, defaulting to

responses that keep people far away and out of sight.

We hear you repeating your commitment to European values – respect for human dignity,

liberty, democracy, equality, the rule of law and human rights. But we expect to see them in your

actions, too. Too many leaders have been preoccupied with stopping people from reaching

Europe, at the risk of reducing access to protection for those who need it the most.

You have the responsibility to manage migration in a fair manner that addresses the legitimate

concerns of citizens. It must be principled and based on facts, not on populist rhetoric. Strength

doesn't mean turning away those most in need. Strength is about showing a way forward that

upholds values.

Further, if the EU and its member states want to remain credible international actors, they

cannot expect countries like Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon to host millions of refugees, while

simultaneously pushing migrants and refugees back at EU borders, stranding thousands in

inhumane living conditions on the Greek islands, or pushing them back into an uncontrolled

conflict zone like Libya. Your decisions have life and death consequences, and if you continue

to lower standards, countries around the globe will follow suit.

Instead of countering the rise of xenophobic populists, Europe’s response has too often been to

copy their recipes. But an approach based on deterrence and border closures cannot override

an effective long-term policy. We expect statesmanship that stands up for humanity and dignity

and that addresses people’s fears, instead of fuelling them. We expect sustainable, long-term

migration policies that guarantee respect for people’s rights rather than pushing them into

danger. These include expanding safe and regular pathways to Europe, such as humanitarian

and other visas, increasing resettlement spaces and improving access to family reunification

schemes, as well as improving worker mobility across skill levels. Other global concerns such

as conflict and instability, poverty, inequality and climate change must remain at the top of the

European agenda.

You and your governments must assess the impact of your policies on the human rights and

living conditions of women, men and children on the move, as well as Europe’s long standing

commitment to uphold these rights and improve the lives of people everywhere.

On the brink of the European Union’s 60 th anniversary we ask you to show solidarity, respect for

humanity and dignity, and responsibility. We ask you to be truly inspiring leaders for the future.

Our commitment to the European Union’s core values cannot falter. Only a Europe that really

stands by its values can be a strong and credible leader in a world shaken by increasing

populism and so-called alternative facts.

European history is full of people who were forced to flee their homes due to war and

persecution. The work European nations have done to develop and protect the rights of people

over the last 70 years cannot be lost. Only a Europe that defends the rights of everyone, without

exception, is a Europe we can be proud of.


1 Fundación Atabal

2 A Proposito di Altri Mondi Onlus

3 ACAT  



6 ACT Alliance EU

7 Action Against Hunger

8 ActionAid Italy

9 ADP Amici dei Popoli

10 African Media Association Malta

11 Agir Ensemble pour les Droits de l'Homme

12 AI.BI. Amici dei Bambini


14 Albanian Human Rights Group (AHRG)

15 AMERA International

16 Amnesty International

17 Anna Lindh National Network in Finland


AOI – Associazione Organizzazioni Italiane cooperazione e solidarietà


19 Arsis

20 ASGi - Associazione Studi Giuridici Immigrazione

21 Asociacion en Prevencion y Asistencia de la Violencia APAV

22 Asociación pro derechos humanos de España (APDHE)

23 ASPEm Onlus

24 Associació Salut i Família

25 Association Européenne pour la Défense des Droits de l'Homme

26 Associaton for Integration and Migration (SIMI)

27 Associazione K_Alma

28 ASTI - Association de Soutien aux Travailleurs Immigrés

29 Austrian Red Cross

30 Care International

31 CARITAS - Luxembourg  

32 Caritas Europa

33 CEFA Onlus

34 CEFIS  


36 Centar za integraciju mladih

37 Centro per la Formazione alla Solidarietà Internazionale

38 Cercle de Coopération   





43 CIRÉ (coordination et initiatives pour réfugiés et étrangers)

44 CISV Onlus

45 Civic Committee for Human Rights from Croatia (CCHR)

46 CLAE  

47 CODE - Coordination des ONG pour les droits de l’enfant


49 Comitato Collaborazione Medica CCM

50 Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ)

51 Concord Italia

52 CONCORD Sweden

53 Consejo de la Juventud de España

54 Consortium of Migrants Assisting Organizations in the Czech Republic

55 Consorzio Ong Piemontesi COP

56 Coordinamento Italiano NGO Internazionali

57 Cordaid

58 COSPE Onlus

59 CrEA Onlus

60 CVM Comunità Volontari per il Mondo

61 Danish Refugee Council

62 Detention Action

63 Diaconia - Center of Relief and Development

64 DNK - German National Committee for International Youth Work

65 Doras

66 Dorcas Aid International

67 Dutch Council for Refugees

68 Dutch League for Human Rights (DLHR)



71 EuroMed Rights

72 European Evangelical Alliance

73 European Non-Governmental Sports Organisation ENGSO Youth

74 European Youth Forum


Federación de Asociaciones para la Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos

Humanos España


77 Finnish League for Human Rights (FLHR)

78 Finnish Lutheran Overseas Mission

79 Finnish Refugee Council


81 FOCSIV – Federazione Organismi Cristiani Servizio Internazionale Volontario

82 Fondazione Fontana

83 Generation 2.0 for Rights ,Equality and Diversity

84 GVC

85 Habitat for Humanity International, Europe, Middle East and Africa

86 Handicap International

87 Hellenic League for Human Rights (HLHR)

88 Human Rights Watch

89 International Aid Services

90 International Association For Refugees

91 International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims

92 International Rescue Committee

93 International Young Naturefriends - IYNF



96 Islamic Relief UK

97 JRS

98 JRS Belgium

99 KISA - Action for Equality, Support, Antiracism

100 Kopin

101 La Strada International

102 Lafede.cat- Federació catalana

103 Latin American Wome's Rights Service (LAWRS) - UK

104 Latvian Human Rights Committee (LHRC)

105 Le Monde des Possibles ASBL

106 Legambiente

107 LIDU - Lega italiana dei Diritti dell'Uomo

108 Ligue des Droits de l’homme en Belgique (LDH)

109 Ligue suisse des droits de l’homme (LSDH)

110 Link2007 – Cooperazione in rete

111 LVIA

112 Macedonian Young Lawyers Association



Marche solidali – coordinamento organizzazioni marchigiane di cooperazione e

solidarietà internazionale

115 Menedek - Hungarian Association for Migrants

116 Migrant Rights Centre Ireland

117 Missing Children Europe

118 Movimento Shalom onlus

119 Naga

120 Nasc, the Irish Immigrant Support Centre

121 Norwegian Centre against Racism

122 One Third Sweden

123 ONG para el Desarrollo

124 Osservatorio AIDS

125 Overseas

126 Oxfam

127 Pax for Peace


129 Platform Kinderen op de vlucht – Plate-forme Mineurs en exil

130 Polish Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights

131 Polish Migration Forum

132 Polish Society of Anti-Discrimination Law (PSAL)

133 Pro asyl

134 PRO.DO.C.S.

135 ProgettoMondo Mlal

136 Rainbow for Africa

137 Red Acoge

138 Save the Children

139 Secours Islamique France

140 SKOP - The National Platform of Maltese Development NGOs

141 SONIA per un Mondo Nuovo e Giusto

142 SPARK15

143 stichting LOS (National Support Organisation for the Undocumented)

144 Stichting Vluchteling

145 Swedish Refugee Advice Centre

146 Terra Nuova

147 Terre des Hommes

148 The Finnish NGDO Platform to the EU Kehys

149 The Migrants’ Rights Network

150 Trócaire


152 United Protestant Church in Belgium

153 Welthungerhilfe

154 WeWorld

155 with the support of CONCORD Europe

156 World Vision

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