Speaking for Ourselves

Editorial: A Refugee Week call for change

Editorial: A Refugee Week call for change


 Migrant Voice - Editorial: A Refugee Week call for change

Twenty years in prison. Fines of 50,000 Euros. It’s 2019 and this is the shameful price of saving human lives on Europe’s borders.

Pia Klemp, captain of the NGO ship Iuventa, faces two decades in prison if convicted for her role in rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean, while a new law passed in Italy last week (seen as a barely concealed attempt to halt search-and-rescue operations) means ships that enter Italian waters after being banned from doing so can be fined up to 50,000 Euros. In the same week, a US man who provided migrants with water and food narrowly escaped a 20-year prison sentence.

Punishments usually reserved for the most serious criminal offences are now being meted out on ordinary people who refuse to stand by while human beings die. And as more and more humanitarian actions are criminalised, more people will die.

This Refugee Week we’re remembering those people who lost their lives seeking sanctuary – in the seas bordering our supposedly civilised continent, in the detention centres at the US-Mexico border, in the undercarriage of a truck driving from Calais to Dover – and calling on world leaders to take notice and to take action.

Not action to further criminalise rescue and solidarity, but action to end this senseless loss of life. Action to create safe, legal routes for people who need to move.

We need fundamental reform of immigration and protection policies, a new approach that fits with the values we claim to hold in today’s world.

Around the world – from Libya to Venezuela, Myanmar to Syria – people are fleeing horrors, only to find their path to safety blocked by walls, fences, naval ships and hostile legislation that criminalises their movement.

We say that it is unacceptable that anyone should have to risk their life in order to reach safety or move across borders.

We call on our fellow human beings to join our call for change. And we call on the international community to honour its fundamental responsibility to protect human lives by providing sanctuary and safe routes for migrants and refugees, and to stop demonising and scapegoating them for what is wrong in our societies.


During Refugee Week, we're gathering people's thoughts for those who have lost their lives seeking safety, and their messages for world leaders who can take action to stop this happening. Send your thoughts and messages to [email protected] and click here for more information. 


TOP IMAGE: Credit: Giuliano Giannini

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