Al Jazeera English published this video item, entitled “Is Europe abandoning refugees? | The Stream” – below is their description.
People fleeing their homes due to war and persecution could once consider Europe one of their least worst options when seeking safety. But as European Union member states from the Baltic to the Mediterranean fortify their borders – and in some cases illegally eject asylum seekers – the continent is becoming increasingly inhospitable.
A newly-published investigation by investigative journalism outlet Lighthouse Reports and European media partners found illegal pushbacks of asylum seekers in three EU countries. Croatia admitted Friday that police officers had mistreated vulnerable individuals after journalists recorded 11 recent cases where its security forces had forced people back into Bosnia-Herzegovina. In Romania, reporters filmed border guards sending people into Serbia on three occasions. They also compiled video evidence of 635 alleged pushbacks in Greece from open sources.
The three countries are among several in the EU that have deployed extra border guards, police units and troops to ensure people do not enter their territory and ask for asylum. EU members Poland, Latvia and Lithuania have each imposed states of emergency along their frontiers as asylum seekers from places including Afghanistan, Syria and Cameroon try to cross from neighbouring Belarus.
Responding to reports of pushbacks in Croatia, Romania and Greece, the EU’s Commissioner for Home Affairs said on Friday “we have to protect our external borders, but we also have to protect our values, the rule of law and fundamental rights.” But the European Council on Refugees is among those saying that the EU executive is doing little to stop the abuses at member states’ borders.
As EU countries intensify patrols at their borders, they are collectively unwilling to accept an urgent appeal by the UN refugee agency to take in half of the 85,000 most vulnerable Afghans forced to flee their homes after the Taliban’s takeover.
In this episode of The Stream, we’ll look at the challenges faced by dispossessed people who are caught in limbo as EU countries lock their doors.
Afghanistan, officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country at the crossroads of Central and South Asia. Afghanistan is bordered by Pakistan to the east and south; Iran to the west; Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan to the north; and China to the northeast.
Occupying 652,000 square kilometers (252,000 sq mi), it is a mountainous country with plains in the north and southwest. Kabul is the capital and largest city. The population is around 32 million, composed mostly of ethnic Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras, and Uzbeks.
Belarus, officially the Republic of Belarus and formerly known as Byelorussia or Belorussia, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe. It is bordered by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital and most populous city is Minsk.
Cameroon, officially the Republic of Cameroon, is a country in Central Africa and West Africa.
Cameroon is home to over 250 native languages spoken by nearly 25 million people. Cameroon became a German colony in 1884 known as Kamerun. In 1960, the French-administered part of Cameroon became independent. The southern part of British Cameroons federated with it in 1961 to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon. The federation was abandoned in 1972. The country was renamed the United Republic of Cameroon in 1972 and the Republic of Cameroon in 1984.
The official languages of Cameroon are French and English. Its religious population consists of 70.7% Christians and 24.4% Muslims. It is governed as a Unitary presidential republic and has good relations with the major powers of France, the United Kingdom and China.
The largest cities in population-terms are Douala on the Wouri River, its economic capital and main seaport, Yaoundé, its political capital, and Garoua.
The country is well known for its successful national football team.
Croatia, officially the Republic of Croatia, is a country at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe on the Adriatic Sea.
Croatia was first internationally recognized as an independent state on 7 June 879 during the reign of Duke Branimir. On 25 June 1991, Croatia declared independence and the Croatian War of Independence was fought for four years following the declaration.
A sovereign state, Croatia is a republic governed under a parliamentary system. It is a member of the European Union, the United Nations, the Council of Europe, NATO, and the World Trade Organization and is a founding member of the Union for the Mediterranean.
Croatia is classified by the World Bank as a high-income economy. Croatia provides social security, universal health care, and tuition-free primary and secondary education.
The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of 27 member states that are located primarily in Europe. Its members have a combined area of 4,233,255.3 km² and an estimated total population of about 447 million.
Greece is a country in southeastern Europe with thousands of islands throughout the Aegean and Ionian seas. Influential in ancient times, it’s often called the cradle of Western civilization. Athens, its capital, retains landmarks including the 5th-century B.C. Acropolis citadel with the Parthenon temple. Greece is also known for its beaches, from the black sands of Santorini to the party resorts of Mykonos.
Latvia is a country on the Baltic Sea between Lithuania and Estonia. Its landscape is marked by wide beaches as well as dense, sprawling forests. Latvia’s capital is Riga, home to notable wooden and art nouveau architecture, a vast Central Market and a medieval Old Town with St. Peter’s Church.
Lithuania, officially the Republic of Lithuania, is a country in the Baltic region of Europe. Lithuania is one of the Baltic states. Lithuania has an estimated population of 2.8 million people as of 2019. The capital and largest city is Vilnius and other major cities are Kaunas and Klaipėda. Lithuanians are Balts. The official language, Lithuanian, is one of only two living languages in the Baltic branch of the Indo-European language family, the other being Latvian.
On 11 March 1990, a year before the formal dissolution of the Soviet Union, Lithuania became the first Baltic state to proclaim its independence, resulting in the restoration of the independent State of Lithuania.
Lithuania is a developed country with an advanced, high-income economy. Lithuania is a member of the European Union, the Council of Europe, eurozone, Schengen Agreement, NATO and OECD. It is also a member of the Nordic Investment Bank, part of Nordic-Baltic cooperation of Northern European countries, and is classified as a Northern European country by the United Nations.
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant.
Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative provinces, covering an area of 312,696 square kilometres, and has a largely temperate seasonal climate.
Poland’s capital and largest metropolis is Warsaw.