PACE committee reminds member states to avoid xenophobic, racist approach to refugees, migrants

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe’s (CoE) Committee for Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons has said member states can integrate migrants and refugees in a way that encourages “a sense of togetherness,” reminding them to avoid xenophobic and racist reporting.

In a draft resolution based on a report by Domagoj Hajduković (Croatia) and adopted by a large majority, the committee members said integration was a “dynamic process of mutual adaptation where both migrants and host societies bear some responsibility” for success.

Communication with the public on migration should be “fair and fact-based,” addressing both its benefits and challenges, while avoiding “stigmatising, xenophobic, racist, alarmist or inaccurate” reporting, the committee said.

Drawing on positive examples of integration from Norway, Sweden and Finland, the committee also proposed access to interpretation for migrants and refugees as well as language and citizenship training, actively matching their skills with job opportunities and targeted assistance with housing, access to health care and schooling.

Xenophobia, hate speech and hate crimes against Syrian refugees are increasing in Turkey, a CoE member state, as the country prepares for upcoming elections, and politicians from far-right parties have been fueling anti-Syrian sentiment in regions recently hit by two major earthquakes.

Attitudes about refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria have gradually hardened in Turkey, where they used to be welcomed with open arms, sympathy and compassion, as the number of newcomers has swelled over the past decade.

The committee has 81 members who are appointed to PACE by the national delegations.

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