Spanish Bishops appeal for better migration policies
By Linda Bordoni
At least 23 people died on Friday as they attempted to cross from Morocco into Spain’s enclave of Melilla, and scores more were injured.
Observers accused Morocco’s security forces of using “unjustified” violence against the migrants who were trying to force their way through a border fence into what is effectively Europe.
Melilla and Ceuta, Spain's other North African enclave, have the European Union's only land borders on the African continent. The tragedy comes in the wake of a number of incidents that have seen migrants attempting to gain entry to the Spanish enclaves by climbing the barriers, swimming along the coast, or hiding in vehicles.
A statement released by the Spanish Bishops' Conference expressed deep regret for the loss of human lives, hope for the speedy recovery of all those wounded, and closeness and solidarity to their families and companions.
The Bishops did not neglect to note that some members of the Moroccan and Spanish security forces were also injured during the clashes, and they called on authorities to clarify the facts and to take the appropriate measures so they do not happen again.
“We sympathize with the concern of the inhabitants of the border cities, and we thank the Diocesan Church of Malaga for its work of accompaniment to migrants and refugees,” the Bishops said.
Humane and humanitarian perspective
At the heart of the statement were the humane and humanitarian perspectives and the reminder that most of the migrants involved were Sudanese fleeing war and famine.
“Given the different interpretations of these violent events, we invite you to contextualize them with a humanitarian perspective,” the Bishops said.
While understanding the need for the regulation of migratory flows, they continued, “we must consider the critical situation of misery in which thousands of sub-Saharan migrants find themselves, crowded on the other side of the border of Spain.”
The Spanish Bishops thus proposed that EU legislators take the humanitarian drama into account and implement new migration policies based on the indications offered by the Social Doctrine of the Church.
Calling for cooperation and joint action, the Bishops went on to note that Spain, for example, “lacks the space or resources to issue visas in many African countries where thousands of migrants come from who could apply for international protection.”
Welcome, protect, promote, integrate
The Church, the Bishops continued, advocates on all nations “to help save lives, welcome and protect migrants.”
They expressed the need for “orderly migration through legal and safe channels, as well as development cooperation with countries suffering from war, conflict and famine.”
The Catholic Bishops of Spain concluded with an appeal for a humanitarian perspective that analyzes and confronts this new crisis, taking into account the need for protection of every human being and the commitment to urgently establish legal and safe ways of access.