Geneva, 22 February 2022 (TDI): According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, human rights violations along Europe’s borders have increased and several of these cases have resulted in terrible deaths.

Numerous entry points at land and sea borders within and beyond the European Union continue to report incidents of violence, harassment, and pushback, despite repeated calls from UN agencies, most notably the UNHCR and nongovernmental groups (NGOs) (EU).

UNHCR is concerned about Greece’s land and sea border crossings with Turkey, where UNHCR has documented around 540 reported informal returns by Greece since the start of 2020. People in Central and South-Eastern Europe have also encountered difficulties at the border.

The UNHCR has documented a troubling pattern of threats, intimidation, violence, and humiliation, despite the fact that many events go unreported for a variety of reasons.

Life rafts have been abandoned and people are driven into the sea, demonstrating a callous disregard for human life. Since September 2021, at least three deaths have occurred in the Aegean Sea, one of which happened in January.

Similarly, at land borders, people are robbed of their possessions and forced to return home in harsh circumstances. Despite accumulating evidence, only a few European countries have investigated the numerous credible reports that have accumulated in this area.

Rather than that, a number of boundaries are being strengthened through the construction of walls and fences. Additionally, it has been heard that some refugees were returned to their home nations despite the risk they faced. Non-refoulement is a fundamental concept of international law.

It makes no difference how an individual enters a country as long as they have a right to asylum. Those who want it should be provided with the right to seek asylum, be informed of their rights, and have legal representation.

Those fleeing violence and persecution have only a limited number of options. Walls and fences, for example, are unlikely to be effective deterrents.

They will only compound the plight of those in need of foreign help, particularly women and children, by encouraging them to pursue more perilous options that will almost certainly result in additional deaths in the long term.UNHCR, violence and human rights violations along Europe's bordersUNHCR, violence and human rights violations along Europe’s borders

UNHCR is concerned that these acts may become more prevalent and policy-oriented as a result of them. The majority of refugees on the planet reside in nations with lesser salaries and resources than the country from which they escaped.

Border monitoring activities must adhere to the fundamental freedoms guaranteed by EU law. The 1951 Refugee Convention, as well as other international human rights and refugee laws, as well as European law, compel states to conduct fair, caring, and effective asylum-seeker procedures.

UNHCR, violence and human rights violations along Europe's borders
UNHCR, violence and human rights violations

For as long as the UNHCR has been, European countries have been staunch supporters, providing significant financial assistance to refugees and host countries.

Foreign financial and capacity support, however, cannot take the place of states’ responsibility to receive and protect refugees within their own borders.

While resettlement and other legal choices are critical as a show of solidarity for host countries, they cannot substitute for the obligations owed to those seeking asylum at borders, particularly those who arrived irregularly and impulsively, including by boat.

Governments should safeguard fundamental human rights, including the right to life. The European Union’s judgment regarding asylum seekers and refugees is crucial since it establishes a precedent for the area and the world at large.