European Statement on Migrants’ Health

The following statement on migrants’ health was signed by 20 National Member Organisations of the IFMSA, and was read during the European Regional Meeting 2015, held in Aalborg, Denmark, April 24-28th 2015.

On Sunday the 19th of April 2015 a ship carrying migrants from Libya to Lampedusa capsized, resulting in the loss of over 700 lives. An emergency summit of European Union leaders convened on the 23rd of April in response to this disaster and resulted in commitments to increase funding for search-and-rescue missions in the Mediterranean and to ‘identify, capture and destroy’ vessels used in human trafficking.

Since the start of 2015, the International Organization of Migration estimates that more than 1700 migrants have perished on the crossing from Africa to Europe. In April 2015, twice as many migrants are estimated to have died attempting this crossing than in the whole of 2013.

Article 14 of the International Declaration of Human Rights states that ‘everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution’. A person can only claim asylum in some European countries once they have crossed the border, so migrants making the journey from their countries of origin are vulnerable due to their lack of state protection.

The IFMSA has acknowledged governments’ “obligation under international law to protect the human rights of migrants” in the Access to Healthcare for Undocumented Persons policy statement adopted at the August Meeting of 2014.

We, the undersigned National Member Organisations of the European Region of the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations, condemn:

  1. The response of our governments to the current situation, such as the destruction of vessels, which does not address the root causes of migration and will not prevent migrants fleeing desperate situations.
  2. Our governments’ role in the root causes of migration and the lack of political will to remedy this.

We reaffirm that human life should be equally valued regardless of origin or nationality. As National Member Organisations of IFMSA, we commit to raise this issue in our countries where appropriate and continue to support work within our institution on this issue.

We applaud the European Governments who have pledged to increase funding for search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean as a short term strategy to mitigate the threat to life caused by this crossing. In the longer term, we call for a commitment from European governments to make safer options for migrants to enter Europe to apply for asylum. We call for a commitment from European governments to address their role in root causes of unsafe migration, such as financing of conflicts and discriminatory immigration policies.

We task European leaders with increasing the number of resettlement places available in European countries. Finally, we call for acknowledgement of the responsibility of the European governments to protect the human rights of vulnerable people above immigration policy.

“We can’t deter people fleeing for their lives. They will come. The choice we have is how well we manage their arrival, and how humanely” – António Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and former Prime Minister of Portugal.

The following National Member Organizations of the IFMSA signed and supports this statement: Medsin-UK, SISM-Italy, TurkMSIC-Turkey, IFMSA-Spain, MMSA-Malta, HelMSIC-Greece, ANEMF-France, NMSA-Norway, AMSA-Austria, FASMR-Romania, FiMSIC-Finland, IFMSA-Sweden, IMCC-Denmark, AMSB-Bulgaria, AECS-Catalonia, MMSA-Macedonia, CroMSIC-Croatia, SloMSA-Slovakia, IFMSA-Serbia and HumSIRC-Hungary. 

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One thought on “European Statement on Migrants’ Health

  1. […] People from countries such as Syria, Burma, Afghanistan, Sudan and many more, undertake dangerous journeys in order to find a new home, safe from violence and persecution. Many cross seas without food or water, only to be stranded in their vessels as they are prevented from entering other countries. Others walk over mountains and deserts, swim across lakes and rivers, hoping somehow to find a safe haven. Thousands of lives have been lost on these dangerous routes, an issue that IFMSA has addressed in a previous statement. […]

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