Brussels, Belgium - Dozens of migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and supporters recently participated in a 500km protest march to highlight restricted movement within the European Union.
The march began in Strasbourg, France, five weeks ago and concluded in Brussels. The participants plan on staying for one week in Brussels to raise awareness of the situation of migrants in Europe, culminating in a protest in front of the European Parliament building.
The march's participants call for radical changes in European asylum policy and the right to move freely. They also disobeyed Europe's movement laws by crossing the borders of France, Germany, Luxembourg and Belgium.
They hope to call attention to the Dublin II agreements, which stipulate that asylum applications from non-EU migrants must go through an arduous process of approval in the first country of entry. During this process, asylum seekers cannot move freely within the EU. Most have also been denied the right to work.
Over the past decade, European countries have increasingly focused on preventing people from even setting foot in EU territory. European governments often implement policies that spur migrants to take dangerous routes, sometimes with fatal consequences. In the past 20 years, around 20,000 asylum seekers have died en route to Europe. According to Amnesty International, at least 435,000 people sought asylum in the EU, but just 136,000 were allowed in.
"The globe's self-styled leaders are lagging far behind the developing world when it comes to bearing the burden of the global refugee crisis," said Sherif Elsayed-Ali, deputy director of global issues at Amnesty International.