On the occasion of the World Refugee Day 2017 (20th June), the Refugee Section of the Emigrants’ Commission appeals to all people of good will to seek to understand better the plight of refugees and to enhance their appropriate response to the human solidarity challenge the vulnerability of such people represents.
Today there are more people in the world displaced by conflict or persecution than any time since World War II. Over 65 million people around the world have been forced to flee their homes to escape danger, and find safety.
The figure includes over five million refugees victims of the six-year-old Syrian conflict, the biggest humanitarian and refugee crisis of our time, a crisis which has also left an estimated two million people killed or injured. Around 24,000 of those who have died are children.
So near to us living in Malta, there is also the grave concern about the thousands of migrants from North Africa and the Middle East who continue to lose their lives in the Mediterranean Sea. Over 1,770 people are estimated to have died or gone missing trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea from Libya so far in 2017. More are believed to have died in the Sahara before arriving in Libya.
Wars, persecution, human rights violations, poverty, environmental imbalance and natural disasters, are all causes that propel the refugee phenomenon. The first to suffer in this hurt, are the children. At times, children also suffer torture and other physical violence, in addition to moral and psychological aggression, which almost always leave indelible scars.
The Emigrants’ Commission, which has been constantly working with refugees and their families since the beginning of the 1970s, energetically supports and encourages Malta’s sustained efforts towards shouldering always better its legal and moral responsibilities in the field of international protection and of solidarity with vulnerable people according to their human rights and dignity.
The Commission further urges Maltese representatives in international fora to fervently and persistently stress the fundamental necessity to deal with the causes which trigger refugee flows and migrations in the countries of origin. This requires, as a first step, the honest and active commitment of the whole international community to eliminate the conflicts and violence that force people to flee.
Human fraternity and the value of solidarity require creative, active, co-ordinated, concrete responses. Good intentions and promises are not enough. The existence of every human being is tied to that of others. The others, whoever they are and wherever they may be, are persons to take care of.