(Source: MJ/COMECE)

“The pandemic should not be an excuse to let human beings die in the Mediterranean Sea”, the General Secretary of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE), Fr Manuel Barrio Prieto, has cried.

Referring to the many migrants who have not been promptly and safely disembarked at the closest EU port over the last few days, COMECE called for “a predictable solidarity mechanism agreed among EU member states”.

Full text of the COMECE statement:

COMECE shares the concerns recently expressed by the Maltese Conference of Bishops about the fate of 47 people stuck for days on an NGO rescue vessel in Malta’s search and rescue area (SAR), in an extremely precarious situation and finally taken back to Libya.

The EU should support its Member States in ensuring the prompt and safe disembarkation of migrants and asylum seekers at the closest safe port, “which should be a European port, as Libyan ports cannot be considered safe”, says Fr. Manuel Barrios Prieto, General Secretary of COMECE.

To prevent the Mediterranean Sea turning into a vast cemetery, COMECE calls the European Union and its Member States to work for a common response to forced migration, establishing “a predictable solidarity mechanism agreed among EU member states to cope with emergency situations of vulnerable migrants in distress at sea”.

Despite the current difficulties caused by the current Covid-19 pandemic to all EU Member States, COMECE highlights that humanitarian principles should always prevail.

“No one should be left behind – says General Secretary Fr. Barrios – including migrants in a rescue vessel”.

As Pope Francis reminded all of us in his 2019 Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees in 2019, “it is not just about migrants: [it is about our humanity], it is a question of seeing that no one is excluded”.

The EU is a community of values and principles, with the common understanding that human beings are equal in dignity and deserve respect for their human rights and protection, especially when they are in a situation of high vulnerability.

More on Novena from the Mediterranean:

Malta Catholics ask government: “How can we call ourselves Christians and then leave people drowning at sea?”

Malta Bishops ask Vatican to “intervene” with EU to relieve “huge pressures” on national reception, asylum system

“Human dignity is not in quarantine”: EU Bishops urge states to “generosity” in relocating asylum seekers from Greek islands

Malta archbishop, on Mediterranean refugee rescue: “Saving lives is a moral imperative”

“Unjustifiable”: Maltese, Italian Catholics rip closure of ports to refugees rescued in Mediterranean

Francis thanks Mediterranean refugee rescuers: “I’m always available to lend a hand. Count on me”

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