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Migrants waiting to board a train in in Gevgelija, Macedonia heading to Serbia. Credit Matthieu Alexandre/Caritas Internationalis

Migrants waiting to board a train in in Gevgelija, Macedonia heading to Serbia. Credit Matthieu Alexandre/Caritas Internationalis

Hundreds of thousands of people are arriving in Europe seeking protection and care. Most of them come from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, where they have faced war and poverty.

Pope Francis has called for every parish in Europe to welcome one family. Caritas Internationalis calls upon governments, communities and all people of good will to welcome refugees while working for peace as a priority in their homelands.

Ensure a welcome

Refugees and migrants arriving in Europe must be welcomed. They need safety, shelter, food, water and counseling as any initial response.

As soon as possible, refugees and migrants need help to access training and the labour market. Any degrading treatment and discrimination should be condemned and pursued by law.

All people on the move deserve to have their dignity and human rights respected, independent of the legal status which may be attributed to them. Governments have specific international legal responsibilities to refugees.

Current detention and coercive practices must be reformed. The detention of unaccompanied minors and adults with minors must end. Detention would add to the trauma suffered escaping violence and during their journey.

Work for peace

Conflict and poverty in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries are driving people out of their homes. The wars in Syria and Iraq need an urgent, regional solution. The UN Security Council can no longer allow itself to be sidelined. The manufacture and selling of arms fuelling these conflicts must be stopped. Under-resourced humanitarian programmes in Syria, Iraq and across the region need to be properly funded by donor governments.

Countries should address the root causes of involuntary migration, such as inequality and social injustice, poverty, unemployment, lack of development, war and humanitarian crises.

Safe migration

Caritas calls for safe and lawful ways to migrate. People no longer should have to undertake risky journeys to Europe or other places of destination. Safe legal migration will stop the operations of criminals and traffickers.

European countries – as well as governments in other regions – must make some fundamental changes to allow for larger resettlement and humanitarian admission quotas, expanded visa and sponsorship and scholarships programmes. It is against European values that countries refuse to receive people. Caritas calls on governments of the European Union to decide on a fair system of responsibility sharing, for the sake of human beings in distress.

Responsibility is not one-sided. Those who are welcomed should have the possibility to contribute to the receiving societies.