Catholic agency accuses Europe of mistreating boat refugees

Refugees arrive exhausted

Refugees arrive exhausted

Last week’s immediate return to Libya of 238 immigrants including women and children rescued in international waters, without consideration of their refugee status or injuries, was a violation of their human dignity, the International Catholic commission for Immigration (ICMC) has said.

In a statement, the commissio, accused Italy and other European nations of contravening the 1951 Refugee Convention, saying that the rejection of human beings in need of basic international protection overshadows calls by these same nations to build more humane societies.

“ICMC deplores the reflex to resort to enforcement-only approaches,” said a statement from the secretary general Johan Ketelers. “Such approaches do not work, and there are better alternatives within reach that are more humane and more effective in every way”.

The commission added that no political or economic argument could balance or counter the value of a person. While it was fully understood that solutions require sustained and longer-term action, immediate short term responses are also needed to fully respect every human person in his or her profound dignity and rights.

ICMC said that it was not the number of people within the so-called “mixed flows” of migrants and refugees that contributed to a widespread feeling that the arrivals are high and unmanageable; rather, it was the lack of structures to adequately assist them.

In recent years, there has been an increase in numbers of illegal immigrants flocking Europe either in search of political asylum or economic survival. They mostly arrive in make-shift boats. Hundreds have
reportedly died after their boats capsized or due to freezing in the high waters.

While initially the immigrants were treated as refugees and given medical attention before being returned to their countries, their influx has led most European countries to return them without any attention.

ICMC called on European government to first provide the voyagers with humanitarian assistance and, upon assessment­particularly of the refugees, victims of torture, trafficking or trauma, and women or
children among them­to refer them to the professional structures and services to which their human dignity, basic human decency and international law entitle them.

“Forcibly returning them without such differentiation, assistance or process is a denial not only of their rights and human identity, but of human yearnings we all share”.

Source: ICMC

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