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End refugee camp policy and stop marginalising refugees 

The International Federation of Iraqi Refugees’ (IFIR) publishes its demands for World Refugee Day

United Nations’ World Refugee Day has been held on 20 June every year since 2001, the 50th anniversary of the UN’s 1951 Refugee Convention. World Refugee Day commemorates the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees. This year, it also marks a key moment for the public to show support for families forced to flee. IFIR, together with all organisations working worldwide to protect refugee rights, welcomes this important day.

Over the last few years we have seen an increase in negative reactions towards the massive wave of people fleeing war zones. We have seen increasing pressure on refugees through hard deportation policies, tightened borders, imprisonment, lengthy detention in camps and a blind eye turned at tragic mass deaths. In these circumstances refugees suffer physical, social and emotional deprivation, which can lead to depression and suicide. Through rage and desperation, others become radicalised and fight for terrorist groups and states, which in turn leads to more destruction, death and displacement. In the light of such atrocities, we see the bitter reality of countries rejecting and opposing refugees while signing agreements to protect their rights. 

It is nearly 67 years since the UN’s 1951 Refugee Convention was signed, but today we are seeing global powers and regional conservative, nationalist and religious governments exploiting, persecuting and attacking ordinary working people. Millions are being forced into a tunnel of mass death, terrorism and bombardment where their work is destroyed and their lives are lost or disrupted. So it is no surprise that so many people are forced to flee their homes and become refugees.

Those people, however, face further tragedy as they seek safe refuge. Their rights as refugees are widely violated in European countries that consider themselves as the heart of democracy and human rights. These rights, which came into existence through the hard work of the working class, seem to have lost their value.

Human rights organisations report that refugees in camps suffer widespread rights violations and violence, including violence against women and children. They show that refugees face sexual harassment and prostitution. Tens of thousands of people are deprived of the right to live, work and move freely. Many thousands are forced to labour in difficult situations, women are driven into prostitution and undocumented children have their rights taken from them. Many others spend their youth in prison while facing deportation. Nevertheless, racist and marginalising policies against refugees from right wing parties in these countries are enforced. Refugees become the victims of political interests and rivalries, racist attacks and fascism.

IOM, the UN Migration Agency, reports that in the first 24 weeks of 2018 40,073 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea, while 857 people are dead or missing.

Since August 2017 IFIR has sent 30 bodies of Iraqi Kurdish refugees back to Kurdistan – most were women or children, 26 of those people had drowned at sea and 4 had committed suicide. However, IFIR saved the lives of 287 refugees who were forcibly sent back to Syria by the Turkish government. IFIR brought the refugees back to the Kurdish area of Iraq.

IFIR believes the only way to reduce problems with migration is by establishing a borderless world where all people live with equal citizen rights. IFIR believes that human rights are universal and cannot be limited by factors such as geographical position, territory, culture, religion, race, age or place of birth. Any belief or movement that restricts human rights for reasons including racism, fascism or cultural relative theory, is a reactionary belief or movement that stands against universal human rights.

IFIR believes that the isolation that refugees experience in camps must be ended. Furthermore, IFIR believes that the European Union and UNHCR have a responsibility to stop the immoral and violent acts committed in refugee camps. Consequently, IFIR demands that refugee camps are closed and refugees are given chance to live in the cities and a stable quality of life and the same human rights as all other citizens by migrating them to Europe.

Below is the list of IFIR demands: 

  1. An end to refugee camp policy and marginalising refugees from society. They are the victims of war and displacement and they have the right to a better quality of life.

  2. Opening borders for refugees who are the victims of war, in order to save them from death; equal allocation of refugees across EU member states in line with their responsibilities; and protection of refugees from racism and assaults by fascists.

  3. Immediate release of refugees from detention centres.

  4. An end to the policy of imperialist wars of division in the Middle East and North Africa; condemnation of NATO, Russian and Chinese military interference in the area; and end to their support for groups affiliated to them, because it is their war which created instability and poverty leading to a mass refugee exodus.

  5. The agreement between Turkey and Greece to deport refugees is to be suspended. Also to condemn Turkey for continuing to deport refugees back to the Kurdistan area of Iraq.

  6. Activation of the UN in war-torn countries in order to help internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees; and to oblige the EU to recognise refugees’ rights and provide them with assistance.

  7. Swift steps by the EU to enable civil society groups and refugee organisations to help refugees with food, health care, clothes and shelter without discrimination by ethnic group or religion.

  8. Planned resettlement of refugees in receiving countries, with no social or economic discrimination against them.

  9. Support for social movements and organisations that work to establish secular systems in the Middle East and North African countries.

  10. European countries to take equal responsibility for implementing these tasks.

IFIR will continue campaigning for these demands because IFIR believes that these victims of war are not alone in their struggle. Worldwide worker unions and human rights organisations unite with refugees to end this widespread and prolonged attack on their fundamental rights.

International Federation of Iraqi Refugees

20th June 2018 

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