Destination Unknown campaign members have urged the European Council to prioritise the protection of refugees and migrants over securing external borders, ahead of the Council summit on Thursday and Friday (22-23 June).

The EU should not put lives at risk or violate the human rights of migrants and refugees, and should assess the impact of migration policies on human rights law to make sure those implementing them are held accountable, 17 organisations said in a group statement.

European leaders must see migration as an opportunity rather than a challenge. Leaders need to step up and show how migration can benefit the EU, and demonstrate how much people moving to the bloc are actually needed.

The European Council summit will discuss the EU Migration Partnership Framework agreed in June 2016. The scope of the Framework is to encourage partner countries to better cooperate with the EU on migration issues. The Framework targets countries of origin and transit – the five priority countries being Niger, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Senegal and Mali – with 16 other partnership states also identified.

The main concerns raised by civil society were that the Framework sought to stop movement by focusing on border controls, returns and readmissions. Concerns were raised that money earmarked to fund international development would instead be spent militarising borders and that measures taken to tighten border control could increase the risk of human rights violations.

A year on, the Framework has achieved only limited success.

Deterrence measures put in place have resulted in refugees and migrants taking new, riskier routes in search of safety and a better life. The model put in place is not sustainable, as the reasons why men, women and children migrate to Europe are not solved by securing borders but by policies which tackle root causes of migration like conflict, persecution, poverty or climate change.

The short term measures set out in the Framework are to save lives at sea and in the desert, to fight traffickers and smuggler networks, to open legal avenues to Europe and to resettle more refugees in the EU from host countries.

But new legal pathways for refugees have not yet been opened up, making most of these objectives impossible to achieve. If regular and safe migration is to become a reality for those seeking shelter from war and misery, these safe and regular routes to Europe must materialise before yet more people are pushed into unstable boats towards uncertain futures.

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