CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 10 November 2018

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Solution to refugee plight is in home countries

LONDON (SE): “I am deeply concerned over the deepening humanitarian crisis involving thousands of migrants unfolding in Calais,”  Bishop Patrick Lynch, from the Office of Migration Policy of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, says in a statement released on August 8. 

“The crisis has developed over a decade and challenges us all, both as Christians and as Europeans. We must face up to this reality at various levels,” he continued.

Bishop Lynch adds that despite tremendous efforts by the Church, government and non-government organisations to care for and provide suitable accommodation for the huge number of people who have descended onto Calais in France, the response has not been adequate.

“At an international level we are aware that the answer to the current migrant crisis lies beyond Calais,” Bishop Lynch says.

Estimates from the UNCHR indicate that in the first six months of this year, 137,000 refugees and migrants have crossed the Mediterranean Sea on top of the 75,000 who made the voyage last year.

Speaking at the Vatican, the prefect of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Peter Cardinal Turkson, said that he believes the bulk of the responsibility lies with governments in Africa.

He told the Daily Graphic that in most places in Africa there is no decent national vision among government officials on how to provide a respectable living and viable support for people.

“Some politicians, by nature, are shortsighted,” Cardinal Turkson commented.

He said that every country needs a comprehensive plan, as without a decent national vision to off-set political myopia there is no chance of making progress.

The Ghanaian publication, Starmonline, reported the cardinal as saying, “We see our citizens crossing the Sahara to get to Europe and being attacked by Bedouins and dying. We see them crossing the Mediterranean and drowning.”

He then asked, “And for those who survive, it is the European Union which is struggling to take care of them. What are our governments saying? What are they doing about it?”

The Ghanaian cardinal said that he believes that the pursuit of a long-term national vision to make the country economically strong is the only way to resist negative foreign influences from disrupting life, stressing that poorly formulated visions based on political party manifestos will not get any nation anywhere.

However, Bishop Lynch said that the international community must share in this responsibility.

“We must face up to the shared responsibility of making the world a better and safer environment to live in… examine as a matter of urgency the arms trade that fuels armed conflict and civil war, climate change, unjust economic policies, poverty and corruption as some of the underlying causes of this fundamental global trend,” he says in his statement.

“The safety of vulnerable women and children who may fall prey to smugglers and human traffickers is paramount and must be addressed,” the English bishop stressed.


He then quoted Caritas Europe as saying, “The current migration crisis is complex and there are no easy solutions for governments, non–governmental organisations, faith groups and charities working in the field. However, governments, charities and humanitarian aid agencies should be encouraged to work together for a collaborative international response to the challenge in partnership with the countries of origin.”

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