European migration regulations push desperate people onto deadly roads

Caritas International European migration regulations push desperate people onto deadly roads
08/06/2016

As ministers of the interior meet tomorrow to discuss European migration policies, those who are trying to reach Europe continue to die along the way. Caritas International, Caritas Europa, and the Jesuit Refugee Service Europe (JRS) are asking European leaders to change their restrictive approach to migration. European regulations, including the agreements with Turkey, are based on deterrence and do not necessarily prevent migrants from reaching our countries. On the other hand, they prolong the suffering and force the migrants to rely on smugglers and traffickers in search of increasingly dangerous access roads.

“I was not able to find a safer path to get to Europe, however, I was hoping to find a legal way. To have to resort to using a ferryman to cross into Greece was my only and last alternative. I knew it was very dangerous, but I was desperate. I was trying to save my life, and what remains of my soul,” said a young Syrian girl just a few days ago to a member of the Caritas Greece team. She fled Syria alone, she was raped along the way, and found herself faced with unsavory smugglers to cross the Aegean Sea.

According to the latest reports, nearly 1,000 migrants have died in recent weeks as they attempt to cross the Mediterranean. Their desperate attempt to reach Europe demonstrates how terrifying their situation is. Caritas International, Caritas Europa and JRS Europe are dismayed by the continuing suffering of all these individuals and call for solidarity with these women, men, and children.

“Like Pope Francis, Caritas dreams of a Europe that recognizes the necessary contribution of migrants to our society and is committed to respecting the dignity of every human being,” said Jorge Nuño Mayer, Secretary General of Caritas Europa.

Caritas International, Caritas Europa and JRS Europe call on the EU, and especially Member States, to:
• Open safe and legal access routes to Europe
• Introduce affordable, easily accessible humanitarian visas from the embassy of an EU member in the country of origin or transit
• Facilitate family reunification for refugees and migrants, thus promoting integration into host countries
• Expand humanitarian admission programs
• Engage in more resettlement
• Lift the visa requirement when the humanitarian situation warrants

“Europe has the power to save and protect the people. It is just a political matter to offer a safe path to those who arrive in Europe without risking their lives. It is time to defend and implement the UN Refugee Convention that Europe ratified after the Second World War. It is also time to live and act on the values that have built us,” concludes Jean-Marie Carrière, Regional Director of JRS Europe.

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