Lampedusa: this is not the Europe we want
In a meeting today with the President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, COMECE President, expressed his deep concern for the situation of refugees and asylum seekers, especially after the tragedy off Lampedusa, where an estimated 280 people died whilst attempting to reach the shores of Europe. In the light of this tragedy, Cardinal Marx has urged the Europeans to act:
“The EU is not an abstract international body. It is a Union of peoples, of women and men who believe in a set of principles, among which the most vital one is :human dignity. The EU is also a Union of 28 Member States which have committed themselves to solidarity among one another, and towards the rest of the world.
The tragedy of the shipwreck off Lampedusa undoubtedly touched the hearts of Europeans. It is the responsibility of all European citizens to call for a strong and coordinated political action, so that such a tragedy may never happen again. For years, we have followed a policy which has prevented those in need reaching our shores. This is not the kind of Europe we want. To claim asylum is a fundamental human right which we must respect. Refugees and asylum seekers deserve to be treated humanely.
An aggravating factor in this crisis is a clear lack of solidarity. An urgent priority of the EU Council of Ministers for Justice and Home Affairs should be an agreement on a significant resettlement quota for every EU member state. The EU and the international community must issue a strong call to the countries of origin and transit of migrants and asylum seekers to respect their human dignity.
We will only manage to prevent such tragedies in the future if we tackle more effectively the crisis outside Europe that cause these migrations. We must help the developing and less developed countries. After this tragedy, Europeans should advocate the setting of more ambitious Millenium Development Goals (MDG) to fight poverty. The ultimate answer to the current refugee and migration challenge with which the EU is confronted is Global Justice.”