In 2018, an average of six people died each day trying to cross the Mediterranean. We are not only letting people die, we are criminalising those who try to help them. People who have provided food and shelter to migrants have been harassed and prosecuted.
Caritas, the global body of which Trócaire is a member, has cited examples of this in Belgium, France, Hungary, Greece, Switzerland, Serbia, Spain and along the coast of Italy and Malta.
The upsurge in migration has not appeared out of nowhere. Syria has been destroyed by eight years of brutal war. Much of Libya is controlled by militias and the refugees in its detention centres come from countries such as South Sudan, which have suffered years of conflict.
Much of northern Africa has experienced political turmoil, while millions have been affected by drought and conflict in East Africa.
Given our own history, Europe should show compassion to people escaping these brutal situations. The European Court of Human Rights has opted to rule against the EU’s founding values by callously rejecting an opportunity to show real compassion to 42 desperate people.
This letter by Trócaire CEO Caoimhe de Barra was published in the Irish Times on Friday 28th June, 2019.