BY ISN STAFF | June 8, 2016
Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Europe has joined Caritas Europe in calling on European leaders to alter their approach to migration, as European Union members gathered today to discussion migration policies for the region.The call by two prominent faith-based refugee organizations in the region comes as the world continues to process the news of over 1,000 migrant deaths in the past week. According to The New York Times, the men, women, and children perished while attempting extremely dangerous crossings of the Mediterranean Sea while seeking refuge in Italy.
“I couldn’t find any other way to come to Europe. I wished there were a safe way, a legal one. Being smuggled to cross over to Greece was my only alternative. I knew it was a dangerous thing to do, but I was desperate. I had to cross to save my life and what is left of my soul,” told a young Syrian woman to a Caritas Greece staff a few days ago. She fled Syria alone. She was sexually abused on the way and had to turn to smugglers to cross the Aegean Sea and save herself from her abuser.
In a statement published on JRS Europe’s website, the two organizations expressed their frustration with the current situation, saying they are “appalled by the continuous suffering of so many people and stand in solidarity with these women, men, and children.”
Caritas Europe and JRS Europe are calling on European Union (EU) and its member states to take a number of actions, including the following: open safe and legal channels of entry into the EU for migrants; the introduction of humanitarian visas, which are affordable and easily accessible via any EU embassy in countries of origin and transit; facilitation of family reunification for refugees and migrants, hence fostering integration in receiving countries; extension of humanitarian admission programs; additional efforts to resettle refugees; and the lifting of visa requirements when justified on humanitarian grounds.
“Like Pope Francis, Caritas dreams of a Europe that acknowledges the necessary contribution of migrants to our societies and commits to respecting the dignity of every human being,” said Jorge Nuño Mayer, Secretary General of Caritas Europa.
“Europe has the power to save and protect people. It’s a just question of political will to provide safe ways for people to enter Europe without risking their lives. It’s time to defend and apply the very Refugee Convention that Europeans set up after World War II and to act upon our founding values,” said Jean-Marie Carrière, Regional Director of JRS Europe.