Since 2014 at least 18,000 people have lost their lives in Mediterranean crossings (IOM). In the meantime, the beginning winter was threatening lives of 600 migrants stranded in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s camp Vucjak. Fortunately the camp was shut down this week and the migrants were relocated to another camp near Sarajevo (Reuters). The European Union needs to create a more coordinated approach to migration as the basic human right to life is not sufficiently cared for. Seven partner organizations of the “SDGs and Migration” international project make an appeal to the new president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, to create a fair and just new Pact on Migration and Asylum.

Ursula von der Leyen, in the office since 1st of December, promised a “fresh start on migration“ by delivering a new Pact for Migration and Asylum by February 2020. Fighting against human traffickers and smugglers, creating systems for asylum and return, ensuring genuine legal pathways to the EU and working on more sustainable, reliable and permanent approach to search and rescue are some of the main points. As members of the SDGs and Migration project that challenges the existing views on migration, we applaud this initiative. In the open letter, sent to Von der Leyen last Friday, we suggest what a truly comprehensive pact should contain in order to base its migration policies on human rights while acting in the SDGs framework.

Subject: for a fair and just new Pact on Migration and Asylum
CC: Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas;
Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson

Dear President of the European Commission,
We, the partners of the Faces of Migration project, welcome the spirit of ambition and
determination that will guide the newly elected European Commission to address the
challenges of our times and adapt to the ongoing transformations that our world is subject
to. As you have already highlighted, “what we do now will determine what kind of world our
children live in and will define Europe’s place in the world”. In such a fluid environment, it is
a critical moment for all of us to maintain the values upon which the Europe is built.
Human rights have always been a cornerstone of the European way of life, the
integrity of which will be in the center of the European Commission’s priorities. To this end,
we would like to stress the importance to ensure that no one will be left behind and that
human dignity will be the major priority during the next years of changes and continuous

With great distress, we all become witnesses of women, children and men who
continue to die in the Mediterranean Sea. At the same time, others are suffering
passing through the Sahara Desert and escaping from conflict areas in the Middle East
and Africa. In Europe, migrants and refugees are severely exploited alongside the poor
European population, in agriculture fields and in many industries. Inequalities both inside
and outside countries are widening, cause involuntary migrations and undermine
sustainability. In the current political context, the EU should defend its democratic
fundamental values and ensure that the new policies will not violate the European acquis
and that they will all aim at a sustainable future. The new Pact on Migration and Asylum
is a major opportunity for the European Commission to establish its migration policies by
using a human rights-based approach while acting in the SDGs framework.

As partners of the Faces of Migration program, we call for a truly comprehensive Pact:
– a sustainable plan for the protection of the rights of refugees and migrants taking
into consideration people’s needs and vulnerabilities, especially for women and
– a fair responsibility sharing mechanism between the EU member states to ensure
that each country will be able to offer to the migrants and the refugees it hosts a
dignified way of living;
– the establishment of more regular channels to Europe via resettlement, relocation,
labour visas etc.
– a systemic action comprising the implementation of a big search and rescue
operation, following the standards that Italy adopted in Mare Nostrum, a swiftly
relocation between member states, and the adoption of a common European
external and security plan to contribute to solve the conflict in Libya;
– the improvement of the external dimension of the EU’s migration policy to support
human mobility for sustainable development, using funds to third countries (e.g. the
Official Development Assistance) for fulfilling the purposes they have been
established for, without diversions to other aims.

We are strongly committed every day in our countries to raise awareness and make
Europe a welcoming place for everyone and we will continue supporting you in building
a fair and just Europe that will be a leader in human rights protection worldwide.

Yours sincerely,

Veronika Nožinová,
International Coordinator for DEAR project
on behalf of:
Diaconia ECCB – Center of Relief and Development;
Bulgarian Platform for International Development (BPID);
Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP);
Federazione degli Organismi Cristiani Servizio Internazionale Volontario (FOCSIV);

ActionAid Hellas;
Povod institute for culture and the development of international relations in culture