March 2011. Distribution of hot meals of Caritas mission in Tunisia at the Libyan border. The Tunisian people, cities and associations have shown great solidarity to migrant workers. There is plenty of food and water in the camp. Credits: Sébastien Dechamps / Secours Catholique

March 2011. Distribution of hot meals of Caritas mission in Tunisia at the Libyan border. The Tunisian people, cities and associations have shown great solidarity to migrant workers. There is plenty of food and water in the camp.
Credits: Sébastien Dechamps / Secours Catholique

Caritas calls on the international community protect to protect migrants and refugees leaving their homes as a result of recent unrest in Arab countries.

Crises in North Africa and the Middle East have led to 740,000 people leaving Libya and 10,000 people leaving Syria in recent months. The UN has warned that large numbers of refugees leaving these two countries could spark a humanitarian crisis further destabilising the region.

“Saving lives is a greater priority than controlling borders,” says Martina Liebsch, Director of Policy at Caritas Internationalis, “We need to focus on the futures of the refugees who have fled violence and unrest. We need to protect lives and provide humanitarian help, provide international protection where necessary and help people to find durable solutions in the long run.”

“The international community and the European Union in particular need a coordinated approach for receiving migrants and refugees who reach international borders so they don’t find themselves stuck in limbo.”

Caritas has been working on the Egyptian and Tunisian borders, monitoring the situation, providing food and water, as well as providing information on migration and repatriation. Caritas is also monitoring the situation of Syrian refugees on the Turkish and Lebanese border.

This week marks the 60th anniversary of the 1951 Refugee Convention. The convention defines the rights of refugees and the obligations of nations to grant international protection.

Caritas asks for refugees in the current crises to be treated fairly and justly and for their cases to be dealt with efficiently. Caritas calls on nations receiving people who have had no option but to leave their countries to ensure their treatment lives up international standards such as the Refugee Convention.

“It is essential that refugees are received in a dignified manner, respecting their fundamental rights and that they have access to a fair and efficient asylum procedure. We urge the international community to offer resettlement places in significant numbers to those who cannot return home nor stay in the country of asylum. This is an opportunity for international cooperation.”

Please call Michelle Hough on +39 06 69879721 or +39 334 2344136 or hough@caritas.va with any requests.