Statement from Jean today, on World Refugee Day
The public outcry over the tragic deaths of people attempting to cross the Mediterranean has placed a different slant on World Refugee Day, 2015.
People are risking a perilous journey that they know could end in death, as well as having already met with exploitation and robbery en route for no other reason than they believe it is their best chance to find safety from the persecution and risk faced in their home countries.
EU Member States are struggling to face up to collective responsibility for refugees.
There may be some short term effect by seizing and sinking smugglers’ boats, but the longer term and lasting effect is just increased injuries and deaths. Destroying boats does not in any way provide a solution
More opportunities for legal access to the territory of the EU and greater commitment on combating the underlying reasons why refugees flee their country of origin will go a long way to offering solutions. But it won’t count for much without a humane and compassionate response now. This is how we should view the problem, and not endorse a competition to see who can talk toughest.
On World Refugee Day, we must renew efforts to support, and not demonise, refugees fleeing war and strife by offering safe haven, not furthering the toxic rhetoric of “fortress Europe”.