Jun. 4, 2019

Save lives of boat refugees on “deadliest border in the world,” urges declaration

Photo: EKD (Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland)

04 June 2019

The Protestant Church in Germany and Palermo (Italy) Mayor Leoluca Orlando have issued a joint declaration calling for a European distribution mechanism for boat refugees.

Currently there is no Europe-wide distribution mechanism to accommodate refugees rescued in the Mediterranean in the European Union. The declaration calls for a political emergency solution this summer, and urges a group of European Union member states to act as a “coalition of the willing” and develop a sustainable migration policy.

People are still trying to cross the Mediterranean, the declaration points out, and migration movements are a historical phenomenon originating in the fundamental human right to mobility.

“People move in search of better living conditions, or flee from war, poverty and climate disasters,” reads the text. “In view of the expected rise in refugee flows during the summer it is essential for the European Union to remember its fundamental values and to find solutions for the individual states so as to prevent more deaths in the Mediterranean.”

Such solutions must enable the creation of humanitarian passages and give priority to rescuing shipwreck victims and saving human lives, the text notes.

“The Mediterranean continues to be the deadliest border in the world,” reads the declaration. “We know of hundreds of deaths so far in 2019.”

The declaration asks a challenging question: Do we want to help in 2019 or look the other way? “The criminalisation of civil search and rescue operations must stop,” the declaration says. “Now!”

The text also states that saving lives at sea must remain a public responsibility. “This summer we need a European emergency solution, a provisional distribution mechanism for boat people,” reads the declaration. “Let’s make this happen!”