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Protecting women refugees must be an EU priority - Anderson

8 March, 2016 - by Martina Anderson MEP

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has today called for increased protection of women refugees and asylum seekers.

Speaking after a debate and vote on the situation facing women refugees and asylum seekers, Martina Anderson MEP said;

"On International Women's Day, we acknowledge the role women play in today's society and the impact they have had in the past.

"It is also a day where the inequalities faced by women are laid bare. Women earn just 10% of the world's income and own just 1% of the world's property. Women face immense discrimination and inequality all over the world. 

"The attention of the European Parliament today was turned to one specific group of women who are in dire need of our immediate action and support.

"Women and children now make up nearly 60% of refugees fleeing horrific conflict and barbaric persecution. The severity of the persecution and conflict they flee is evidenced by the perilousness of the journeys they undertake to seek refuge in Europe. Nearly four hundred people have died in the Mediterranean in the last few weeks, one third were women and children.

A Member of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, Ms Anderson continued,

"Female refugees are increasingly vulnerability to human trafficking, exploitation, discrimination and abuse. Women travelling alone or with children, pregnant and nursing women, adolescent girls, and elderly women are among those who are particularly at risk and require a properly resourced, coordinated and effective protection response that is compassionately trained to accommodate the needs of vulnerable female refugees.

"Amnesty International has reported on sexual violence and the exploitation of Syrian refugee women in Lebanon. It noted that refugee women who were the heads of their households and without an adult male relative were particularly at risk and had little or no protection or access to justice.

"The current response to the needs of refugee women and children by governments and the EU institutions has been woefully insufficient.

"More humane asylum policies need to be prioritised by all states. In developing and implementing these policies, particular attention should be paid to the situation of women, girls and children, notably the victims of sexual and gender-based violence.

"European countries have to open safe and legal passage and access to asylum for those fleeing conflict and persecution. No refugee should be subjected to detention and reception centres need immediate improvement in standards. The humanitarian crisis at Europe's borders needs a humanitarian response. The EU can be a driving force for that, fostering effective integration and ensuring a fair and safe distribution of asylum seekers across member states." ENDS

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