Doc. 11004
5 July 2006

Unexpected large scale arrival of migrants and asylum seekers in Europe

Motion for a recommendation
presented by Mrs de Zulueta and others

This motion has not been discussed in the Assembly and commits only the members who have signed it


1.       During the summer of 2005, Europe was bombarded with images of boats laden with migrants and asylum seekers arriving on the small island of Lampedusa off the southern mainland of Italy. Later in the autumn the images were of migrants and asylum seekers attempting to scale the fences protecting the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.

2.       In 2006, the sailing season for irregular migrants and asylum seekers is already well underway. New routes have opened up, as desperate people take even more desperate steps to try and enter Europe. The Canary Islands have recently taken the brunt of new arrivals, but arrivals are also picking up in other areas including once again the Island of Lampedusa and Malta.

3.       Spain, Italy and Malta are not the only countries facing unexpected large-scale arrival of migrants and asylum seekers. Greece, Turkey and other countries also find themselves on the routes of migrants and asylum seekers looking for ways to enter Europe.

4.       These unexpected large scale arrivals bring many challenges, not just for the sea-states where these people land, but also for the rest of Europe as many of those arriving transit through these States, on to other countries.

5.       The unexpected large scale arrival of migrants and asylum seekers brings with it a number of human rights challenges for those countries receiving the migrants and asylum seekers, while at the same time raises difficult migration management issues for receiving countries and other possible destination countries.

6.       The Assembly should call upon the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to outline the main human rights responsibilities of states receiving unexpected large scale arrivals of migrants and asylum seekers. Notably, in this respect it should call upon the Committee of Ministers to ensure that member states:

6.1.       protect the right to life of those in distress at sea;

6.2.       provide adequate reception facilities, including rapid reaction mobile reception facilities as necessary;

6.3.       make available emergency health facilities;

6.4.       provide access to interpretation, and legal advice, in particular for those who may be seeking asylum;

6.5.       take all necessary steps to avoid refoulement;

6.6.       allow UNHCR, IOM, ICRC and other humanitarian organisations access to arrivals;

6.7.       organise return, where appropriate, in a humane manner.

7.       The Assembly should also call upon the Committee of Ministers to remind member states of their responsibilities towards other states, in particular through:

7.1.       burden sharing, whereby the burden of arrivals is shared also by non-Mediterranean countries;

7.2.       avoiding recycling irregular migrants (a process where States tacitly allow irregular migrants to move on to other countries);

7.3.       negotiating readmission agreements.

Signed 1:

de ZULUETA, Tana, Italy, SOC

BOUSAKLA, Mimount, Belgium, SOC

Lord, BURLISON, United Kingdom, SOC

DENDIAS, Nikolaos, Greece, EPP/CD

ETHERINGTON, Bill, United Kingdom, SOC

GÜLÇIÇEK, Ali Riza, Turkey, SOC

HAGBERG, Michael, Sweden, SOC

IWIŃSKI, Tadeusz, Poland, SOC

OLIN, Kalevi, Finland, SOC

ĜSTERGAARD, Morten, Denmark, ALDE

PORTEIRO GARCIA, Maria Josefa, Spain, SOC

TOROSYAN, Tigran, Armenia, EDG

van THIJN, Ed, Netherlands, SOC

VERMOT-MANGOLD, Ruth-Gaby, Switzerland, SOC

ZAPFL-HELBLING, Rosmarie, Switzerland, EPP/CD


1        SOC: Socialist Group

      EPP/CD: Group of the European People’s Party

      ALDE: Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe

      EDG: European Democratic Group

      UEL: Group of the Unified European Left

      NR: not registered in a group