Frontiers of fear: North Africa
Since January 2015, it is estimated that 2000 people have died by drowning in the Mediterranean Sea whilst trying to reach Europe. Dozens more suffer major injuries in their attempts to cross the border between the Moroccan town of Nador and the Spanish enclave of Melilla. Many of the victims include unaccompanied minors. It was this desperate situation that led the European Jesuit Social delegates to choose Nador for their annual meeting. In light of what they witnessed in Nador, they have issued the following statement.
We are Jesuits and partners from all over Europe involved in social justice and advocacy. We met here precisely because we are called to go to the frontiers, especially where the suffering of people is most evident. We chose to be here in order to express our solidarity with the local Jesuit team working in Nador. Borders between Northern Africa and Southern Europe are frontiers of suffering, violence and human rights violations. The heavily armed security fence between Nador and Melilla is a tragic by-product of "Fortress Europe". We are concerned about the lawlessness at this crossing point, evidenced by the increased use of physical force by security personnel.
Alongside the suffering, we have witnessed compassion and solidarity of men and women of all faiths and nationalities united by their commitment to support these young African migrants. We have been particularly moved by the care given to female victims trapped by human trafficking.
As a result of our meeting, we
- Renew our commitment to accompany and serve our sisters and brothers in their suffering.
- Continue to advocate for just migration and asylum policies in the European Union promoting the dignity of each person, including victims of human trafficking.
- Encourage further research into the root causes of migration.
- Promote global responsibility and action as the only viable response to this humanitarian tragedy.
In addition to our present engagement with migrants within Europe, we therefore express our desire to increase collaboration with Jesuits in Africa in responding to challenges posed by borders.
Main photo: Migrants are rescued from the sea between Morocco and Spain (AFP)