Swing Asks EU to Respect Rights of Vulnerable Migrants Arriving on its Shores

Luxembourg - IOM Director General William Lacy Swing has called on the European Union (EU) to adopt policies that balance full protection for refugees, orderly border management and dignified return for those who do not qualify for asylum.

In prepared remarks to be delivered later today at a high level EU conference in Luxembourg on refugees and migration flows through the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Balkans, Ambassador Swing said: “IOM welcomes another milestone along the path of a new migration policy with your adoption today of a Declaration.”

Over 530,000 people have arrived in the EU so far this year, seeking sanctuary and fleeing poverty in what has become a political emergency for Europe. Almost 3,000 desperate refugees and migrants have drowned this year while crossing to Europe in unsafe boats.

Mr Swing underscored that care needed to be taken when dealing with asylum seekers who do not neatly fit into the category of refugees.

“Many of those on the move defy easy categorization. Many will be covered by the 1951 Refugee Convention and many others will not. But it is too simplistic to conclude that all of them fall into a single broad category of “economic migrants,” he said.

“I am speaking of a wide range of vulnerable migrants - families with children; persons seeking to re-unite with their families already in Europe; unaccompanied and separated children; victims of trafficking; single and pregnant women, the elderly, the sick and the injured. The majority are coming from countries facing great strife, abject poverty or simply, hopelessness,” he noted.

In his remarks Swing said the focus on migration and refugees is a further recognition that “this 20th century mega-trend of human mobility must be managed.”

“The Declaration is also a recognition that the increased flows are manageable for Europe as a whole, with its large population of more than 500 million and abundant resources,” he said.

On Wednesday, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged EU members to act together to tackle the migrant crisis.

In a rare joint address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, they called for a revamped system for dealing with asylum claims. Germany has taken in far more migrants than any other EU nation, while others have refused to sign up to a quota system.

Mrs Merkel told European MPs: "In the refugee crisis, we must not succumb to the temptation of falling back into national action. Quite the contrary, now we need more Europe.” Read more here:

For more information please contact Leonard Doyle at IOM HQ. Email:, Tel. +41.792857123.