Migration: walls are not Christian | Daniel Desira

Refugees should be welcome no matter whether they are black or white, Christian or Muslim, European or African

File photo
File photo

David Casa and Manfred Weber’s recent statement on migration, should raise eyebrows and make one question the values that Christian Democratic parties are supposed to have. Apart from the dehumanising language, referring to refugees as illegal immigrants, the two conservative MEPs want to appease the racist sentiments across the continent with harsher policies. There is barely anything Christian in that.

The reason for this kind of discourse is of course political, as key EPP figures approach far right Italian prime minister Georgia Meloni, the conservatives might be seeking more common ground in order to secure control of the top posts following the upcoming European Parliament elections. In national contexts, some social democratic parties like those in Denmark and Austria have also taken a more populist approach to migration in order to compete with rising right-wing parties. In Malta, on the other hand, Labour has often taken a more nationalistic stance than the Nationalist Party. Although, under Delia’s leadership, PN has become openly xenophobic.

First of all, the conditions which cause people to flee their home country in Africa or Syria to reach Europe, are various. Some leave because of war in their country, while others do so because of the discrimination they face due to their religion or sexual orientation. Moreover, let’s not forget the lack of economic opportunities on land suffering harsher droughts due to climate change. Taking a look at European history should also teach us that most of Africa was once colonised by the likes of Britain, France and Belgium. On top of that, some companies from the global north are still exploiting the resources of developing countries. One should also acknowledge that around 90% of African migration happens within Africa itself. As the saying goes “Nobody puts their children on a boat unless the water is safer than the land.”

The lack of a legal and safe passage, forces migrants into paying exorbitant fees to cross the continent and ultimately smuggled through the Mediterranean, through unsafe and inhumane mediums. Moreover, it is well documented that the situation in the Libyan detention centres is far from happy, with reports of sexual assault and murder between migrants, not to mention the possibility of ending up auctioned at slave markets. Rendering this passage more difficult through deals with Libya, not only fails to better these conditions but results in further exploitation of vulnerable groups. Last but not least, 2062 migrants are believed to have died in the Mediterranean last year alone.

Casa and Weber’s press release also targets NGOs performing Search and Rescue in the Mediterranean, proposing criminalisation. Saving lives is not a crime and should in no way be equated to human trafficking. Rather than continuing with policy, existing charges for these acts, such as with the case of the El Hiblu three, should be dropped.

Of course, the Dublin Convention should be reformed so that all EU member states share responsibility in the intake of refugees, rather than southern countries taking all the brunt. Moreover, decent and affordable housing needs to be available, while catering for integration of migrants in society, as well as the labour market.

In the end, refugees should be welcome no matter whether they are black or white, Christian or Muslim, European or African. Everyone deserves a decent life, no matter their background or what they have been through. Immigration policy should first and foremost have human rights at its core. If anything, European policy makers should be addressing real-life ills, such as poor wages and inflated energy bills, rather than opting to look for scapegoats.

I expect progressive forces, as well as conservatives with a shred of conscience, to unite for a humane and welcoming EU. I would also like to invite opposition leader Bernard Grech to do the right thing and condemn this kind of rhetoric coming from a Nationalist MEP, although I am not holding my breath.