Vienna – ESI at debate on the human cost of EU migration policy

18 June 2024
Gerald Knaus at discussion. Photo: Ärzte ohne Grenzen Österreich 
Photo: Ärzte ohne Grenzen Österreich 

ESI’s Gerald Knaus was invited to speak at a debate on “The human cost of EU migration policy,” organised by Doctors Without Borders Austria (MSF). 

Gerald advocated for migration agreements aimed at reducing irregular migration and preventing deaths at sea. To illustrate, he referred to the first year of the 2016 EU-Turkey statement’s implementation, highlighting its effectiveness in reducing deaths and crossings in the Aegean. He emphasised the need for further migration agreements with safe third countries as a humane alternative to the status quo of brutal pushbacks at the external borders.

Gerald advocated for additional agreements with third countries to process asylum claims of irregular arrivals outside of Europe to disincentivise dangerous and irregular routes. He specifically mentioned the potential for a deal with Rwanda.

He also expressed concern about the rise of right-wing populists and said that their success has emerged from an ever more prominent discourse linking the feeling of loss of control over migration with absurd theories about mass immigration from Africa, the Islamisation of society, and an imaginary “population exchange”. So far, liberal forces have struggled to mount an effective response. He said that “we are in the midst of the nightmare scenario of far-right election victories. As democrats, we must defend the rule of law, which ultimately protects us all.”

The other speakers were psychotherapist Nora Ramirez Castillo from the care centre for survivors of torture and war, Hemayat, and Marcus Bachmann, humanitarian advisor and head of operations at Doctors Without Borders Austria (MSF).