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Published On: Sat, Sep 5th, 2015

EU: Stop the drownings

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17296_CN5VtdsUsAAr02T_1_460x230This image of a tiny baby lying lifeless on the shore is, like so many, too heartbreaking to watch. What’s really appalling is that instead of being shocked to take urgent action, our leaders are stuck in a fighting match on whose problem this is. But for the first time ever, there’s a glimmer of hope for a solution.

After massive public calls to welcome refugees, German Chancellor Merkel and the President of the EU Commission are leading efforts to deliver a new, strong European Union plan that would give refuge to people fleeing war and hunger. France is on board, but shamefully the UK, Hungary, and other Eastern European countries have been blocking this emergency action. Whether EU politicians lead the world to a humane 21st century refugee plan, or turn their backs, depends on how much they feel the public demands it. That’s where we come in.

Right now we are at a tipping point. It’s time for us to lead our leaders. EU Ministers are meeting in the next few days to set their positions, so there’s no time to lose. Join the call for a plan to give these terrified families safe haven now — Avaaz will deliver our proposal to all key decision makers before their summit:


Every day, hundreds of traumatised and persecuted families are crossing to Europe. With no peace in sight to wars like Syria, their choice to board a boat may be the only one they have. All they want is safety. The UN says nearly one million people need urgent help, and increasing safe and legal routes is the best way to reduce the numbers risking their lives, and curb violent people trafficking.

There is a viable emergency plan: 1. urgent and massive increase in relocation and resettlement of refugees, that shares responsibility across the EU, and reunites families, 2. financial and technical support to countries on the frontline of the crisis like Greece, and 3. ensuring no security actions hinder rescue efforts or put those seeking sanctuary at risk.

Germany is opening its doors and championing this line, but Hungary is building a razor-wire fence, other Eastern European countries are refusing to take more than dozens of families, and the UK has completely refused to take part in any EU emergency package.

We know massive public support can influence politicians — when the Icelandic government said it would only take 50 asylum seekers earlier this week, 10,000 Icelandic people said they would house them. Now the government is reconsidering their commitment.

Thousands of ordinary citizens are choosing compassion and rejecting the closed-door policies some leaders are pushing. Let’s supercharge this wave of humanity and ensure narrow political interests and fear don’t define how Europe and the World respond to the crisis of our time. Join the urgent call to EU leaders and tell everyone:


This heartbreaking human drama is beyond many of our worst nightmares and Avaaz members have been rallying to help refugees since the crisis started — nearly 2,000 signed up to volunteer in assistance programmes, we gave 500,000 USD to a crucial rescue operation in the Mediterranean, we ran a massive aid mission to the Greek islands, and then lobbied fiercely until Europe signed an initial deal. But the magnitude of this crisis means we have to push for more, NOW! Let’s raise history’s loudest ever “Refugees Welcome” cry before the leaders meet.

With hope and determination,

Luis, Alice, Mia, Mais, Luca, Spyro, and the whole Avaaz team


A dead baby becomes the most tragic symbol yet of the Mediterranean refugee crisis (Washington Post)

Europe’s halting response to migrant crisis draws criticism as toll mounts (New York Times)

EU ministers to meet in two weeks to find solution (The Guardian)

Migrant crisis a failure of European policy, UN says (Aljazeera)

Europe ‘must open official channels for migrants’ (BBC)

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