Thursday, November 07, 2013

We are one people

 The tragic sinkings and loss of life of migrants crossing the Mediterranean have brought into sharp focus the treatment and protection of boat migrants, including the need to respect their dignity and human rights.

Human rights watchdogs have lambasted the EU for this failure and for seemingly being more concerned with protecting its borders than with the lives and rights of people in search of protection and better opportunities. Italy, Malta and Spain currently bear the reception burden of African asylum seekers and immigrants. These countries have decried the exorbitant cost of hosting the immigrants, not to mention the material and moral obligations in shouldering the burden. However, their human rights record in the treatment of asylum seekers, including at detention centres, has elicited condemnation.

'Pre-emptive' operations are in contravention of the Geneva Conventions related to the rights of individuals to seek and apply for asylum. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has urged EU countries to process asylum claims and reform their migratory policies.

The tendency to shift blame to anyone and everyone else, including imagined threats will not help solve matters, apart from providing a distraction from the real issues -  poverty, persecution, human rights violations and armed conflicts. Youth unemployment and high poverty levels are often the cause of most of these migrations.

We should remember the victims and sympathise with the level of despair that drive migrants to leave their homes and families, to risk their lives in search of freedom and security, whether out of fear or want,

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