International Migrants Day: IFRC calls for greater protection for migrants in the face of growing apathy

Published: 18 December 2015

Budapest/Geneva, 18 December 2015: As more than 3,000 people still arrive every day in Greece, changing border regulations and a growing apathy across Europe are putting the rights and welfare of migrants at risk, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

This year’s International Migrants Day (18 December) takes place against the backdrop of the biggest movement of people since the Second World War, with the needs of migrants travelling through Europe looming large.

“Thousands of migrants are being left in an appalling limbo,” said Simon Missiri, acting Director of the IFRC’s Europe region. “Changing border regulations and a growing political apathy across Europe is putting the human rights of migrants at risk. It is imperative that Governments strive towards a political solution to this humanitarian crisis.”

Recent changes to border controls and entry criteria in European countries of transit have resulted in migrants of all but three nationalities - Syrian, Afghan and Iraqi - being prevented from travelling through those countries. Thousands of people have been returned to temporary centres in Athens where they are staying in poor conditions with little information about what their future holds. 

Mr. Missiri said: “Greece should not be left to cope with this alone. Its coastguards, the Hellenic Red Cross rescue team and others are saving hundreds of people from the water every day. More than 3,000 people still arrive every day in Greece and are in dire need of assistance. We simply can’t pretend that it is not happening.”

The IFRC recalls the obligation of States to guarantee dignity and protection, and facilitate tolerance and social inclusion for migrants no matter where they are from or why they are on the move.

The Red Cross is responding to the migration crisis in Europe with almost 65,000 volunteers across 28 countries and has reached at least 475,000 people in transit. The IFRC has launched  emergency appeals totalling more than 70 million Swiss francs to provide life-sustaining services and assistance to meet the needs of vulnerable people and families on the move across Europe.

The IFRC’s ‘Protect humanity - Stop indifference’ campaign is urging people, partners and decision-makers to sign up to our call for the universal protection of migrants, without discrimination, at every stage of their journey.

More information can be found at

For further information, please contact:

In Budapest

Linda Low, IFRC communications manager, Europe Region

Tel +36 18884507 +36 18884507  Mobile: +36 709537704 +36 709537704

Email: Skype: linda.low Twitter: @linda_low


Nichola Jones, IFRC emergency communications delegate

Tel: +44 7715 459956 +44 7715 459956 Email:

Twitter: @nicjones81

In Geneva

Benoit Carpentier, IFRC team leader, public communications

Tel: +41792132413 +41792132413  Email: Twitter: @BenoistC

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest volunteer-based humanitarian network, reaching 150 mil­lion people each year through its 190 member National Societies. Together, the IFRC acts before, during and after disasters and health emergencies to meet the needs and improve the lives of vulnerable people. It does so with impartiality as to nationality, race, gender, religious beliefs, class and political opinions. For more information, please visit You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.