Aloysius John, the secretary general of Caritas Internationalis – the relief, development and social services arm of the Catholic Church present in over 200 countries and territories around the world – has denounced the fact that migrants to European countries are badly treated when they arrive on the Old Continent.

Driving the news

According to UN-backed International Organization for Migration figures, some 40,804 migrants have arrived in Europe so far in 2019. The hate and rejection they too often receive has been well-illustrated in recent days by the refusal of the Italian Government to allow migrant rescue ships in the Mediterranean to dock at its ports.

According to the IOM, some 682 people have died or gone missing in Mediterranean waters so far this year.

For the record

Migrants “come to the European countries like Italy and France. However, when these people come they are not well received”, lamented John in an interview with Rome Reports.

“This is one key area of concern for us. This is because migrants live a life of injustice and are victims of injustice. At the same time, when they come here they are unjustly treated. So this is another key concern for Caritas”, added the aid agency’s secretary general, in the post since May.

Go deeper

“The agenda of Caritas is not just helping and doing a bit. The work of Caritas is to be with the poor and be a Church which suffers with the poor. At the same time, it is there to help the poor to live a dignified life. This is because the poor are made in the image of God; and the work of Caritas is to help them to live this dignified vocation as a human person”, said John, adding that Caritas is also “highly concerned” about other “injustices” in the world, such as climate change.

What’s next

As to what Caritas can do to alleviate the suffering of migrants in Europe and of other vulnerable people around the world, John explained that “it is not just a question of giving fish to a man who is hungry. It is also teaching him how to fish”.

“However, this is not enough, you must go further. This is because you must create conditions so he can have fish for the rest his life. This is where the work of advocacy [comes in], the work of sensitizing the public opinion, the work of challenging decision makers to say ‘now how many of you contribute to help people to live in dignity'”, explained John.

“Sometimes politicians are responsible”, lamented John. “So we need to challenge them and say, ‘now these people have to live a dignified life; and what is your responsibility as duty holders before them?'”

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