The refugee situation: it’s all about European core values!
“Our older brother was kidnapped by ISIS and we have no news from him. Our situation became unbearable, so we decided to leave Afghanistan on foot and we have travelled a month and a half to get to Greece. Unfortunately during the trip in Iran we lost our father and we don't know where he is. To get from Turkey to Greece we had to pay 1,000 euros per person to the smugglers for a 5 hour ride, not knowing if we would survive the trip. We hope that our father and our brother are alive and that we can all gather in a safer place. It wasn't a trip. It was a killer trip”, explained Mujdah and Mohebullah, 15 and 8 year-old sister and brother from Afghanistan.
According to the United Nations, since 2014 at least 10,000 people have lost their lives in attempting to reach a safe haven in Europe. The EU restrictive policies prevent people from entering Europe safely, hence resulting in unbearable death tolls. The further externalisation of EU asylum and migration policies through agreements with non-EU countries clearly shows the lack of solidarity with the people fleeing war and persecution.
"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.
According to latest reports, over 1,000 migrants have died in less than a week while trying to cross the Mediterranean. Their desperate attempt to reach the EU shows how dire and terrifying their situation is. Caritas Europa and JRS Europe are appalled by the continuous suffering of so many people and stand in solidarity with these women, men and children.
“When my children are not there, I don’t heat my apartment. For the food, I eat less. I don’t want them to feel that I don’t have money. I tighten my belts. The hardest part is that I cannot give them what I would like to,” explained Fabrice to Secours Catholique – Caritas France, a single father who shares custody of his three children and who lives off EUR1,100 per month.
Caritas Europa is concerned about the fate of the approximately 123 million people live in poverty in Europe and who, like Fabrice, struggle to make ends meet. Their situations are not the result of bad luck, but stem directly from the prevailing policies that prioritise economic recovery from the 2008 economic and financial crisis, instead of addressing the consequences this crisis is still having on millions of people across Europe.
“If Europe doesn’t change tack on austerity now, we’ll continue condemning the next generations to endemic poverty,” says Shannon Pfohman, Caritas Europa’s Head of Policy and Advocacy Unit.
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