NGO petitions EU for humanitarian visa to 'stop deaths'

ROME – Mission Lifeline, the NGO working to save migrants in the Mediterranean, called on the European Union to institute a continent-wide strategy for issuing humanitarian visas on Monday, in a statement released by the organisation.

 Mission Lifeline have established a petition, available in four languages, that calls on the EU to put together an immediate legislative proposal for “a comprehensive humanitarian visa system”, including “uniform procedures for issuing visa applications.”

 The petition detailed that the European Parliament had “already taken a clear position in favour of issuing visas on humanitarian grounds, and it is now for the European Commission to come up with such a legislative proposal and the Council of the EU to adopt this proposal as soon as possible.”

 Nonetheless, it comes against the background of a different interpretation of the situation by the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which decided in March 2017 that EU member states were free to decide their own policies on seeking asylum and that countries were not obliged to accept anyone.  

 Axel Steier, a spokesperson for the Dresden-based organisation, argued that EU countries “cannot close their doors to people who are fleeing war and violence.”

 “We all know the consequences when there are no legal ways in,” Steier noted. “People fleeing are exposed to violence from smugglers, abuse and exploitation; many die along the way in the desert or in the Mediterranean. In order to stop these deaths, it is essential that the current European asylum policy focuses on creating legal escape routes and giving humanitarian visas.”

 At present, only those who physically reach Europe’s borders can begin the process of seeking asylum. Mission Lifeline are hoping that a system can be instituted that secures the safe passage into Europe of those at risk.

The petition is available at: