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MALTA: Statement on forced migrants

malta_01During their General Assembly held in Malta from the 18th to 20th of October, the European Jesuit Provincials reflected on various aspects of the tragic reality of refugees, asylum seekers and forced migrants. The Assembly was very aware of the serious burdens faced by this small country which is disproportionately exposed to the pressures of such migration. They published a statement calling for the respect of the rights of these forced migrants by individual governments and by the entire European Union, and called for the burdens of receiving such migrants to be shared in a more equitable manner.

The document states: “Every year several hundred persons in search of asylum in Europe, take this route through Malta, or need to be rescued and are brought here. Except for the most desperate and vulnerable cases, they are held in prolonged detention, in conditions that deepen previous suffering. If they succeed in gaining international protection, they still face untold difficulties, stemming from overcrowding, Malta’s very limited capacity to receive them, and the scarcity of employment opportunities(…)

We therefore urge the states most directly concerned, and the entire European Union, to make asylum in Europe truly accessible, and to deal more justly and humanely with the forced migrants who reach our shores. As this tragedy, with its roots in countries of origin in our neighboring continent of Africa, continues to unfold we make three requests to our governments and to the European Union: to show effective solidarity with persons urgently seeking protection; to assist over-burdened border states in the responsibility of meeting our shared human rights obligations; and to strengthen partnerships with African states so as to create new opportunities for their peoples to sustain a life with dignity”.

The Assembly represents about 5.900 Jesuits, and their colleagues, working in twenty-three member states of the European Union, as well as in Russia, Ukraine, Croatia, Switzerland, the Western Balkans, the Middle East and the Maghreb. For the complete text: www.sjweb.info