The door is now open for the reception of 10,000 particularly vulnerable Iraqi refugees in the EU: Member States now have the means to act rapidly
COMECE Secretary General Piotr Mazurkiewicz welcomes yesterday’s Council conclusions on the reception of Iraqi refugees. Member States of the EU should now take on a shared responsibility to meet the target identified in the Council’s conclusions for receiving around 10,000 particularly vulnerable Iraqi refugees in the European Union in 2009. At the same time, Fr Mazurkiewicz calls on the EU and on its Member States to raise - in their contacts with the Government of Iraq – the crucial issue of the protection of the Christian community, today threatened with extinction, and of religious minorities in Iraq.
On the occasion of the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting in Brussels on 27-28 November, the Council invited Member States to take in Iraqi refugees - particularly those based in Syria and Jordan - who are in a particularly vulnerable situation, such as those with particular medical needs, trauma or torture victims, members of religious minorities or women on their own with family responsibilities. The Council also drew attention to the possibility of financial support for resettlement to be provided by the European Refugee Fund and that Member States have until 19 December 2008 to indicate their intentions with a view to calculating the allocation of the funding for 2009.
In November 2007 the Bishops of COMECE had already called upon the EU and its Member States to agree as soon as possible on the admission of more Iraqi refugees, considering the desperate situation of those Iraqi refugees – in particular Christians, who are described as “most vulnerable” by the UNHCR. Since then, they have constantly followed relevant developments and received a report from Commissioner Jacques Barrot on the issue during their Autumn Plenary Assembly on 12 November last.
It is to be hoped that the high-level meeting to be convened by the Netherlands in The Hague on 1 and 2 December 2008 will finally enable the EU Member States to reach a concrete and coordinated response to the situation of Iraqi refugees.