(Vatican Radio) A senior official of Caritas Europa said on Thursday the “human rights dimension” of the migrant crisis is “being sidelined” by attempts to prevent the migrants and refugees from arriving in Europe and crossing its borders. Shannon Pfohman, Head of Policy and Advocacy for Caritas Europa, said she didn’t regard the flow of migrants into Europe as a crisis in itself but said it would be more apt to say there is “a crisis of solidarity” among European nations.
Pfohman’s remarks came as on the same day that Caritas Europa launched a new report entitled “Migrants and refugees have rights! Impact of EU polices on accessing protection.” The report calls for safer and legal paths of migration to Europe, a guarantee of the right to asylum and to refrain from using forced returns and practices that violate human rights such as detention and the use of coercion. It also highlights the human tragedy these migrants and refugees face when seeking protection in Europe after fleeing war, repression and the violation of human rights. Pfohman was interviewed by Susy Hodges about their report and the migrant and refugee crisis in general.
Human rights dimension sidelined
The release of the report by Caritas Europa coincided with an EU summit to try to reach agreement on a proposed deal with Ankara that would see all migrants arriving in Greece from Turkey being sent back. For each Syrian returned, a Syrian refugee from the camps in Turkey would be resettled in the EU. Pfohman lamented the failure up to now by EU policymakers to find a long term viable way of handling this influx of migrants and refugees and conceded that EU leaders remain very divided on this issue. She also expressed concern over the current “deterrent approach” being adopted by EU policymakers as a way to avoid having to pay for the costs of the integration and reception of the migrants and refugees within Europe countries.
Asked for her views about the proposed EU-Turkey plan that would see all migrants landing in Greece being sent back to Turkey, Pfohman said Caritas is very "concerned" about this proposal and also by the fact that right now, “Greece is being turned into a refugee camp” because of the closure of borders along the Balkan route for migrants trying to reach northern Europe. She said that it’s the migrants and refugees who because of their vulnerable status are paying a heavy price for these policies and the restrictions on entry into Europe.
Indecision and poor decisions
“The people who are most in need are suffering the most as a result of the (EU) indecision… not only the indecision but the poor decisions when it comes to ensuring the protection of human lives,” Pfohman said.