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Thursday, February 19, 2015

War Migrants: EU must tackle unfolding catastrophe

War Migrants: EU must tackle this unfolding catastrophe

2015-02-17 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio)  Amid worsening violence and chaos in Libya, Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS) warns that we face "an unfolding catastrophe" as more and more migrants risk their lives to cross the sea to Italy.  JRS and other NGO's are urging European governments to act swiftly to face the growing threat to migrants attempting to make the perilous crossing in unseaworthy boats. The appeal comes amid news that nearly 4,000 migrants have been rescued from the Mediterranean Sea over the past 3 days alone.  James Stapleton is the International Communications Coordinator for Jesuit Refugee Service and he spoke to Susy Hodges.

Listen to the full interview with James Stapleton of Jesuit Refugee Service: 

Asked whether he believes that European Union governments will heed this appeal for more resources to face up to the growing threat to migrants attempting to cross the sea to Italy, Stapleton says that based on past evidence, he's not that "optimistic" that there is the "political will" to tackle this issue. " He says this is a moral issue of needing to put peoples' lives first and European governments should be asking themselves this question:  "Do we put border security first or so we put the lives of people in the Mediterranean first?" 

Stapleton says part of the solution to this problem is to focus on ways to "slow down the flow (of migrants) from the countries of origin" such as Syria, Iraq and other nations wracked by war and persecution.  "People only move when they're in danger … and when people are faced with life and death situations they will take enormous risks." 

As the chaos and violence worsens in Libya together with the unrest in many parts of the Mideast and Africa, Stapleton says it's certain that more and more migrants will be taking those enormous risks to try to flee across the sea and Europe is on the borders of what he calls "this unfolding catastrophe."  After the heavy loss of life among migrants fleeing by sea earlier this month, he fears the likelihood of even more deaths in the near future unless more ships and resources are deployed to help rescue these migrants.  "We are looking at a potential catastrophe that we've never seen before in the Mediterranean Sea."  

(from Vatican Radio)