Moria cannot be the end of the road

The Jesuit Migrant Service regrets the situation of abandonment and failure in the reception of refugees in Moria and other places on the Southern Border and reiterates its commitment and availability of its network of communities of hospitality throughout Spain.

Lesbos is an icon, after the fire in the Moria refugee camp, of the failed model of migration policy in Europe. Lesbos presents a model of first reception that does not have sufficient capacity not only to house, but also to welcome with dignity people who are fleeing violence and war in their places of origin. This situation is unfortunately repeated in other places along the European Southern Border, accompanied by the SJM.

In Moria, the situation has been untenable for five years, while Europe looks the other way.

A camp with a capacity for 3,000 people, but with a population of 13,000. Of these, 40% are children, of whom more than 400 are minors without their families. Entire families who have had to flee their homes to escape conflict and death. Also people from different parts of Africa, where violence is structural.

An unsupportive Europe that has not been able to fulfil its obligations in a coordinated way and is increasingly externalising its borders. Many international organisations such as the UNHCR and the IOM, especially at this time of pandemic, have warned of the danger for the refugee camps of living in these overcrowded conditions, due to the impossibility of meeting the minimum health and social distancing requirements.

The reality of the CETI in Melilla and the experience in the bullring of the autonomous city of Melilla show sad parallels.

The position of the UNHCR, the IOM and the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe in this regard is also significant. Likewise, asylum seekers are currently being “stabbed” in Melilla, Ceuta or the Canary Islands, cutting off their fundamental right to free movement and free choice of residence, despite the Supreme Court ruling confirming this right.

Europe seems to be starting to wake up very timidly after the demonstrations in Germany and other corners of the continent. The New Pact on Migration and Refugees is eagerly awaited, although some experts do not foresee significant changes that would put people and not borders at the centre.

The Catholic Church, together with civil society as a whole, has provided resources for humanitarian aid, and communities such as San Egidio or the Jesuit Refugee Service itself, among others, have been accompanying and intervening in different reception and integration areas for years.

For its part, the Jesuit Migrant Service has been welcoming, accompanying and integrating migrants and refugees within its network of Communities of Hospitality. It also works closely with the central and regional governments in the community sponsorship model implemented in the Basque Country, which we hope will soon be extended throughout Spain.

Our models in the Hospitality Communities network especially encourage the reception and rooting of migrants and refugees in the local community through the social fabric, models that have been widely successful in the accumulated experience of recent decades.

Europe, governments and citizens in general, cannot continue to look the other way without acting, as if nothing were happening. Europe, rooted in its founding values, needs to rise to the occasion, working together, with common responses and solidarity, with a model of integration and rootedness in our diverse societies and, above all, respecting the universal right of asylum seekers. This should be the real agenda of the New Pact on Migration and Refugees that will see the light of day in Europe in a few weeks’ time. The Jesuit Migrant Service reiterates its commitment and availability of our hospitality network, joining in this effort to provide a common, coordinated and comprehensive response by putting migrants and refugees, and among them, the most vulnerable, at the centre.