Instead of refugees crossing stormy seas in a dinghy, then burrowing under border fences and dodging hostile guards, a Swedish group wants them to come to Europe in an easier, safer and cheaper way – by plane.
Refugee Air wants to fly people to Sweden directly from countries bordering Syria like Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, where most of the 4 million Syrians who have fled their homes and their country are living. Only a fraction have reached Europe.
“The first flight will be in the air before the first snow falls over Stockholm this winter,” the group said in a statement.
People fleeing Syria’s civil war spend thousands of dollars on the dangerous journey to Europe, far more than a plane ticket costs, but airlines prevent refugees from boarding flights because of a 2001 EU directive.
The EU “carriers’ liability” rule makes airlines responsible for the costs – such as deportation – associated with passengers who seek asylum when they arrive at their destination but have their claims rejected.
This means that even those with strong claims cannot travel by air to European countries which would grant them asylum because airlines do not want to take the risk.
Refugee Air plans to start with a single flight to prove the scheme is possible, then hopes to encourage groups in other European countries to do the same thing, said co-founder Emad Zand, a Swedish businessman.
Many refugees trying to reach Europe by other means have died this year, either on flimsy, overcrowded boats or while travelling overland. Police found a truck in Austria last month which contained the bodies of 71 refugees, many of them Syrian.
Read the rest: trust.org