23 december 2017

To Mrs Federica Mogherini (High Representative of the Union) and EEAS Staff

Gemeentelijke Raad voor Ontwikkelingssamenwerking Herent 
November 8, 2017 
att: Mrs Federica Mogherini 
(High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the European Commission) 
& EEAS Staff members 


As local volunteers, working together with refugees in a group for solidarity, peace and development, we are very concerned about the fate of Syrian refugees in the camps of Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, Bulgaria and Greece.
We read with utmost interest the Joint Communication of the Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to the European Parliament and the Council of 14 March 2017 entitled ‘Elements for an EU Strategy for Syria’ and the Council conclusions on Syria of 3 April 2017, which together make up the new EU strategy on Syria. We are well aware of the position taken by the European Parliament on Syria, on 18 May 2017 and hope that new peace initiatives will result in the short term or at least at next year’s Syria Conference in Brussels. 
However, we received recently detailed information about the deteriorating situation in the region and the problems with safety, food provision and general conditions of living. In the attached letter, you can read how the most vulnerable refugees are risking becoming victims for a second time. 
We urge you to initiate and to support a better organisation of the camps, to create faster resettlement and relocation possibilities and to provide more finances for better security systems in the camps. 
It is self-evident that abuses and violence by the local administration and population must be punished. It is even in our own interest that the refugees in the camps can live a decent live, as more problems between local people and refugees could provoke more refugee waves towards the European Union. 

And praising Europe for its values while leaving millions of people helpless at our doors, will definitely not create a better reputation of the European Union. 

In parallel with this letter we recently have approached all the members of the European Parliament and asked them if they could agree with new engagements of the European Union to aid and protect the refugees. Their answers will be collected. 
Jan Engelen on behalf of the G R O S H (Herent support group for solidarity and development) 
Task force: Refugees 
Marcel De Prins, Koen Neyens, Farouk al Hasbani, Akram Hamo, Yvette Van Malleghem, An Crivits, Ria Verjauw, Leni Creuwels en Jan Engelen, 
contact e-mail: gastvrijherent@gmail.com 
address: Kouterstraat 94c, 3020 Herent (Belgium)