Caritas blames lack of political will and indifference for migrant deaths

A rescue operation is seen off the coast of Libya. (ANSA)

As attention wanes after the drowning of more than 130 migrants last week in yet another Mediterranean Sea tragedy, Caritas Internationalis says it is high time to take concrete political action to save human lives and counter a culture of indifference.

Raising its voice to condemn the indifference and lack of political will that led to the deaths of more than 130 migrants off the Libyan coast between April 21 and 22, Caritas Internationalis says “this moment of shame”, as Pope Francis has described it, must be followed with concrete action.

The Catholic Church’s confederation of humanitarian agencies calls “for mechanisms to be put in place to protect the rights and dignity of migrants along their journey; to ensure safe and legal migration routes, and to intensify support to local communities in the countries of origin so that people are not forced to migrate.”

Outrage must be followed by concrete actions

Aloysius John, Caritas Internationalis Secretary-General, said: “We cannot continue to look the other way or to witness the sad and ignoble scenario of governments passing the responsibility to each other to the detriment of human lives, the value of which seems non-existent today.”

As media attention for the tragedy begins to wane, as it always does, Caritas Internationalis is sounding the alarm with its appeal to keep attention focused on the drama of migrants and to ensure that international outrage is followed by concrete actions.

A shared responsibility

“We must all feel responsible and not forget that these migrants left their countries, because of the consequences of our modern unjust society which does not allow them to live in dignity in their homeland,” John continued.

In its statement, Caritas Internationalis highlights the fact that “the Mediterranean Sea is a cemetery for thousands of … migrants and will continue to be unless the international community decides to act.”

It notes that “the closing of borders is paramount to hypocrisy because the main cause of poverty in migrants’ countries of origin is found in political, economic, and geostrategic choices of the rich countries favouring the exploitation of local resources, in complicity with corrupt local leaders who are kept in power while oppressing their population.”

Pope Francis’ appeal

Recalling Pope Francis’ words during the Regina Coeli prayer on April 25, when he said “these migrants were human beings who begged for help which never came,” Caritas says “It is a shame that the international community does not want to take responsibility to save them. Each face that perished represents scars of violence, misery, poverty, hunger, and helplessness. They were entering the jaws of death with the hope that they can find a better life elsewhere.”

The Caritas confederation states its firm belief that “a sustainable and long-lasting solution to prevent such tragedies cannot be found unless there is the political will to develop the least developed countries, and unless all efforts are undertaken to promote democracy through people’s participation.”

Call to decision-makers

Finally, forced to take stock of this umpteenth tragedy, “which occurred amid worldwide indifference,” and in line with the “Twenty Action Points on migrants and refugees”, formulated by the Vatican’s Section on Migrants & Refugees of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Caritas Internationalis asks the decision-makers to:

  • Adopt mechanisms to enable the safe and legal migration of migrants and refugees, to avoid the repetition of new massacres in the Mediterranean Sea
  • Do all that is possible to receive migrants in dignity as victims of modern exploitation and corruption;
  • Allocate international aid for promoting sustainable community-based micro-projects to enable the prevention of migration as a means of survival;
  • Give ample support to NGOs involved in receiving and accompanying the migrants so that they can continue their mission.

By Linda Bordoni