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MEDEL calls for new immigration rules - The EU and the world need to react to the tragedy ashore of Lampedusa

MEDELThis week, Europe has witnessed the tragedy unfolding a few meters from its shores, at the island of Lampedusa.

It’s just another chapter of the continuous struggle of human beings, many of whom are deprived of the basic conditions of life and of respect for human rights in their home countries, that see in Europe a place where they can work and live, simply hoping to grant to their families a normal and prosperous future.

The hopes and dreams of thousands of those men and women frequently end at the hands of traffickers, that build fortunes over the shattered lives of desperate immigrants.

Europe cannot stand as a mere spectator of this ongoing tragedy.

It was in Europe where for the first time civil rights were separated from citizenship, stressing that every man and women, regardless of being a national citizen, was granted fundamental rights that should be protected.

In the preamble of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, the European Nations have clearly stated that “the Union is founded on the indivisible, universal values of human dignity, freedom, equality and solidarity” and that “enjoyment of these rights entails responsibilities and duties with regard to other persons, to the human community and to future generations”.

It is time for the European Union to prove that those are not meaningless words. Thousands of human beings are suffering at Europe’s doorstep and we cannot be passive.

The death of refugees who try to reach the EU is the direct result of the policy to fence Europe against refugees and immigrants. To really tackle this problem might call for a very general revision of this policy.

The focus of the European immigration policy should not exclusively be security, but also – and mainly – humanitarian reasons.

This requires a fundamental change of immigration and refugee law. It is necessary, among other aspects, to assist immigrants in reaching Europe. Furthermore, measures shall be taken to ensure that refugees have access to education and professional formation that are indispensable to integrate into the European high tech societies and their labour market, thus ensuring the refugees will not depend exclusively on social welfare.

The entailing challenge of integration needs to and can be faced by a joint action of all civilized nations in the world. It should be encompassed by actively helping the development of the countries of origin and by effectively repressing all kinds of human trafficking.

In its objective of promoting the respect for human rights regardless of race, nationality or citizenship, MEDEL urges the EU institutions and Member States to act immediately, in order to define clear and fair immigration rules that prevent more tragedies like the one occurred in Lampedusa.

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