Denying the fundamental right of seeking assistance is tantamount to denying democracy and dignity of the person
“The Mediterranean must become a humanitarian channel”, said to MISNA Monsignor Giancarlo Perego, director of the Migrantes Foundation, after a migrant boat capsized over the weekend leaving hundreds feared dead off of Libya’s coasts. A first focus must be immediately ensuring adequate search and rescue efforts, not only from Italy, but a European coordination. Monsignor Perego stressed that the necessary funds are available and migrants rights to seek help must be guaranteed, at all costs, without “distinction”.
Monsignor, what needs to be done?
“Firstly we must call into question the adequacy of the Triton patrol mission operated by the European Union’s Frontex border agency in turning the Mediterranean into a humanitarian channel, in protection of the thousands of people fleeing. The Italian Mare Nostrum operation must become European. EU nations cannot justify inaction saying it would cost too much. The funds are available. If Italy managed to fund the operation alone for over a year, I’d say that 28 can also. In regard to our nation, it must be stressed that it began developing a policy for asylum seekers and refugees late. It is fundamental that the right to protection of those fleeing their nations of origin not be seen from a “discretionary” viewpoint. Respect of this basic right cannot be subordinated to decisions of each regional leader. Sicily today hosts three times the number of migrants in respect to Lombardy, Puglia double in respect to the Venetian region”.
And in the long-term?
“International institutions must commit to peace initiatives in the Middle East, Syria, Palestine, North Africa and the Horn of Africa. These world regions, our neighbors, are experiencing dramatic situations of war. A ‘Mashall Plan’ is needed to ensure reconstruction in North Africa and aid in the Horn of Africa. The principle must be that of international cooperation, as an instrument of development along the lines indicated in the ‘Populorum Progressio’”.
Some say that to end the tragedies in the Mediterranean, the departures must be stopped at all costs. Do you agree?
“It is senseless to try and stop people who are fleeing. They must instead be accompanied, guaranteeing their fundamental right of seeking assistance. Denying this right is tantamount to denying democracy and dignity of the person”.