venerdì 9 dicembre 2016

Refugees. Open letter to the EU Commissioner Avramopoulos

Dear Commissioner,

We are writing on behalf of the Agency Habeshia which, as you may know, deals with the tragedy of the refugees and migrants and that, therefore, would like to see You, Sir, as an ally in the difficult path intended to ensure freedom, dignity and security to millions of people forced to abandon their land.
Let's start with one of the last, dramatic pleas for help. Certainly You know the UN report that, just a few weeks ago, reported over 400,000 children as victims of famine in Nigeria, because of the situation caused by Boko Haram  militia fundamentalists. Indeed, according to UNICEF, 75,000 are likely to die of starvation in the coming months, at a rate of 200 a day. Not to mention the killings, kidnappings, looting investing entire villages, bombings, massacres and the northern part the country fallen for years under the direct control of ISIS faithful fundamentalists. So figures don’t end up if we think back to Your statement, disseminated by all European media, affirming that there is no need to change the criteria of the nationalities of refugees to be accepted and "relocated" in any of the EU states.

"If we compare Italy and Greece, we see that up to 80 percent of migrants crossing the Aegean Sea are refugees, while the majority of those arriving in Italy from the central Mediterranean, in this case 80 percent, are irregular. We do not intend to change the criteria ... ": this is the declaration which Press attributed to You, in response to those who asked if You were thinking of few changes for Nationalities to redistribute, because in Italy there are no "Syrians and Eritreans enough". Yet this idea of ​​nationality as "a priori requirement" seems nothing short of absurd. At least because - you know it well - according to International law and the Geneva Convention, asylum applications should be examined case by case, listening to the stories of each individual and not, however, carried out according to criteria of "national belonging", as unfortunately we are now doing, accommodating only those fleeing from the war-torn Syria or from Eritrea  enslaved by the dictatorship of an authoritarian regime.
If you really want, however, we might speak well of nations and countries. We spoke of Nigeria, where thousands of people whose alternative is to die under the blows of Boko Haram or hunger. Let's go further: for example, let us think of South Sudan. Again, You, Sir, are too well informed, for the role you play, not to know that a civil war has been ravaging the country for three years, causing at least 10,000 dead and 3 million refugees, threatening to turn into a real genocide, with the warring factions ready to kill and to massacre by ethnicity, following the perverse logic of ethnic cleansing. A UN report published in early December denounces it, in addition to the now "usual" corollary of killings, abductions, villages looted and set on fire, raids even in places like refugee camps under UNHCR's insignia. Not to mention the "famine": apart from climate change and drought, at least two years have passed with no sowings because of war and, therefore, there are no crops to satisfy at least part of the nutritional requirements of the population.

So, what is about? Those fleeing from this hell should not be accepted in Europe as  refugees?

But the list of situations like this is very long. Somalia has imploded, and in the throes of a civil war, with the militants of Al Shabaab, affiliated to Al Qaeda, who make an average score of more than 900 attacks a year, with hundreds, thousands of deaths and, again, a drought and a famine investing millions of men and women. Or Mali where, contrary to what they keep saying in Europe, the war, exploded with the revolt of 2012 in the northern regions, the so-called Azawad, never ended, as evidenced by the long chain of daily attacks, bombings, ambushes, killings. The ordeal of Darfur, the war-torn region of Sudan that has been knowing no peace for years and feeding, in fact, a steady stream of refugees who see in flight the only way of salvation from all kinds of violence perpetrated by the police in the Al Bashir regime, the famous "devils on horseback". Yemen, overwhelmed by the war between Shiites and Sunnis: here thousands of deaths and millions of refugees or displaced and desperate people are driven from their homes and their cities even by bombs and weapons that Europe (and Italy in particular) is selling, together with Member States, to one of the warring factions. Or, again, Gambia, subjugated for years by a brutal dictatorship, which we hope has been truly banished from the elections a few days ago. Or the Central African Republic. Or the same Niger, chosen from Europe to make it a big "sorting hub” for refugees, but that seems far from certain, due to the increasing escalation of terrorist attacks by Boko Haram from Nigeria and AQIM jihadis and Isis from Mali, so that in June, the UN coordinator, Fode Ndiaye, has appealed to the international community speaking bluntly of "humanitarian crisis" ...

One could go on - You know, Sir - for who knows how long. Let’s take Afghanistan, for example, where the European Union wants to "repatriate" 80,000 refugees, as if the country had become suddenly "peaceful and safe". Unfortunately, media dont’ speak a lot of these tragedies and the general public knows just a little. But the real tragedy is denounced by the refugees who continue to knock on the doors of Europe, fleeing from Nigeria, South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia, Gambia and so on: just scroll down the list of nationality of many young people landed in Italy. However, according to Your statements, Sir, it seems that these situations would not be

"sufficient" to open the doors of solidarity in Europe. Not enough to guarantee - as well as rules of International law - help and hospitality.

Why this choice? Habeshia can not explain it. Unless the reason is that these states from which people are forced to flee are largely the very same ones with which European Union has signed a number of treaties to stop the refugees before their arrival on the shores of the Mediterranean. We refer to the processes of Rabat and Khartoum, the agreements signed in Malta in November 2015, the pact with Turkey You exalted and that, in fact, works great as a "barrier" placed across the Aegean: it is a shame that it lets refugees put their neck on the line. Yeah, because agreements and pacts of this kind serve to Europe to outsource its borders even beyond the Sahara or in any case far from the southern Mediterranean, delegating to others the dirty work to supervise these frontiers, and make them uncrossable. And Your statement, Sir, is likely to give now a voice to those who want to raise more barriers of selfishness and indifference and always appeals to a closed-door policy and refusal.

We do hope, as Habeshia, to be proven wrong. But - less than denials, in fact – that is just what emerges from Your words quoted by the media. Words that seem to forget that you leave the house only when the house does not let you any more stay1 ...


Fr. Mussie Zerai, president of Habeshia

Emilio Drudi, Agency spokesman.
Rome, December 8, 2016

1 - Giuseppe Cederna, Home. The subsequent verses say: No one leaves the house unless the house does not cast thee fire under your feet, warm blood in the stomach, something that you never thought of doing, as long as the scythe has marked you the threats neck ...

Profughi. Lettera aperta al commissario Ue Avramopoulos

Gentile commissario,

le scriviamo a nome dell’Agenzia Habeshia che, come forse saprà, si occupa della tragedia dei profughi e dei migranti e che, dunque, vorrebbe vedere in lei un alleato nel difficile cammino teso a dare libertà, dignità e sicurezza ai milioni di persone costrette ad abbandonare la propria terra.

Partiamo da una delle ultime, drammatiche richieste di aiuto. Certamente conoscerà il rapporto dell’Onu che appena poche settimane fa ha denunciato che oltre 400 mila bambini sono vittime della carestia, in Nigeria, a causa della situazione provocata dai miliziani fondamentalisti di Boko Haram. Anzi, secondo l’Unicef, 75 mila rischiano di morire di fame nei prossimi mesi, al ritmo di 200 al giorno. Senza contare le uccisioni, i rapimenti, i saccheggi che investono interi villaggi, gli attentati, le stragi e tutto il nord del paese precipitato da anni sotto il controllo diretto dei fondamentalisti fedeli all’Isis. E allora qualcosa non torna se ripensiamo alle sue dichiarazioni, diffuse da tutti i media europei, secondo cui non occorre cambiare i criteri delle nazionalità dei rifugiati da accogliere e “ricollocare” in qualcuno degli Stati dell’Unione.

“Se confrontiamo Italia e Grecia, vediamo che fino all’80 per cento dei migranti che attraversano l’Egeo sono profughi, mentre la maggioranza di quelli che arrivano in Italia dal Mediterraneo centrale, anche in questo caso l’80 per cento, sono irregolari. Non intendiamo cambiare i criteri…”: questa è la dichiarazione che le ha attribuito la stampa, in risposta a chi le chiedeva se non pensasse a qualche modifica per le nazionalità da ridistribuire, visto che in Italia non ci sono “abbastanza siriani ed eritrei”. Ecco, già questa idea delle nazionalità come “requisito a priori” sembra a dir poco assurda. Se non altro perché – lei lo sa bene – secondo il diritto internazionale e la Convenzione di Ginevra, le richieste di asilo vanno esaminate caso per caso, ascoltando le storie individuali di ciascuno e non, invece, espletate in base a criteri di “appartenenza nazionale” come purtroppo si sta ormai facendo, tanto da accogliere solo coloro che fuggono dalla Siria sconvolta dalla guerra o dall’Eritrea schiavizzata dalla dittatura di un regime autoritario.

Se proprio vuole, tuttavia, parliamo pure di nazioni e paesi. Abbiamo detto della Nigeria, dove per migliaia di persone l’alternativa è morire sotto i colpi di Boko Haram o di fame. Andiamo oltre: ad esempio, prendiamo il Sud Sudan. Anche in questo caso, lei è troppo ben informato, per il ruolo che riveste, per non sapere che la guerra civile che sta devastando il paese da tre anni, tanto da provocare almeno 10 mila morti e 3 milioni di profughi, rischia di trasformarsi in un vero e proprio genocidio, con le fazioni in lotta pronte ad ammazzare e a fare strage in base all’etnia, seguendo la logica perversa della pulizia etnica. Lo denuncia un rapporto dell’Onu pubblicato all’inizio di dicembre, in aggiunta all’ormai “abituale” corollario di uccisioni, rapimenti, villaggi saccheggiati e incendiati, incursioni persino all’interno dei campi profughi posti sotto le insegne dell’Unhcr. Per non dire della “carestia provocata”: già, a parte i cambiamenti climatici e la siccità, da almeno due anni non si fanno più le semine a causa della guerra e, dunque, non ci sono raccolti per soddisfare almeno in parte i bisogni alimentari della popolazione.
Allora, che dire? Chi fugge da questo inferno non deve essere accolto in Europa come rifugiato?

Ma l’elenco di situazioni come questa è lunghissimo. La Somalia implosa e in preda alla guerra civile, con i miliziani di Al Shabaab, affiliata ad Al Qaeda, che mettono a segno una media di oltre 900 attentati l’anno, con centinaia, migliaia di morti e, anche qui, una siccità e una carestia che investono milioni di uomini e donne. Il Mali dove, contrariamente a quanto si continua a dire in Europa, la guerra esplosa con la rivolta del 2012 nelle regioni del nord, il cosiddetto Azawad, non è mai finita, come dimostra la lunga, quotidiana catena di attacchi, attentati, agguati, uccisioni. Il calvario del Darfur, la martoriata regione del Sudan che non conosce pace da anni e che alimenta, appunto, un flusso costante di profughi che vedono nella fuga l’unica via di salvezza dalle violenze di ogni genere perpetrate dalla polizia del regime di Al Bashir, i famosi “diavoli a cavallo”. Lo Yemen, travolto dalla guerra tra sciiti e sunniti: anche qui migliaia di morti e milioni di profughi o sfollati, disperati scacciati dalle loro case e dalle loro città anche dalle bombe e dalle armi che l’Europa (e l’Italia in particolare) vende, insieme agli Stati Uniti, ad una delle fazioni in lotta. O, ancora, il Gambia, soggiogato per anni da una dittatura feroce, che speriamo sia stata davvero scacciata dalle elezioni di qualche giorno fa. O la Repubblica Centrafricana. O lo stesso Niger, scelto dall’Europa per farne un grande “hub” di smistamento per i profughi ma che sembra tutt’altro che sicuro, in seguito alla crescente escalation di attacchi terroristici da parte di Boko Haram dalla Nigeria e di jihadisti di Aqim e dell’Isis dal Mali, tanto che nel giugno scorso il coordinatore delle Nazioni Unite, Fode Ndiaye, si è appellato alla comunità internazionale parlando senza mezzi termini di “crisi umanitaria”…

Si potrebbe continuare – lei lo sa – per chissà quanto ancora. Con l’Afghanistan, ad esempio, dove l’Unione Europea vuole “rimpatriare” 80 mila profughi, come se il paese fosse diventato all’improvviso “pacifico e sicuro”. Purtroppo i media parlano poco di queste tragedie e l’opinione pubblica ne sa poco. Ma che si tratti, appunto, di tragedie lo denunciano i profughi che continuano a bussare alle porte dell’Europa, in fuga dalla Nigeria, dal Sud Sudan, dal Sudan, dalla Somalia, dal Gambia e così via: basta scorrere l’elenco delle nazionalità dei tanti giovani sbarcati in Italia. Però, stando alle sue dichiarazioni, a quanto pare queste situazioni non sarebbero “sufficienti” ad aprire le porte della solidarietà in Europa. Non bastano a garantire – come pure prevede il diritto internazionale – aiuto e accoglienza.
Perché questa scelta? Habeshia non riesce a spiegarselo. A meno che  il motivo non sia che questi Stati da cui si è costretti a fuggire sono in buona parte proprio gli stessi con cui l’Unione Europea ha stretto tutta una serie di trattati per fermare i profughi prima ancora che arrivino alle sponde del Mediterraneo. Ci riferiamo ai Processi di Rabat e Khartoum, agli accordi firmati a Malta nel novembre 2015, al patto con la Turchia da lei esaltato e che, in effetti, funziona benissimo come “barriera” posta al di là dell’Egeo: peccato che funzioni sulla pelle dei profughi. Già, perché accordi e patti di questo genere servono all’Europa per esternalizzare le sue frontiere addirittura al di là del Sahara o comunque lontano dalla sponda meridionale del Mediterraneo, delegando ad altri il lavoro sporco di sorvegliarle, queste frontiere, e renderle invalicabili. E le sue dichiarazioni, ora, rischiano di dare voce ulteriore a chi vuole alzarle ancora di più le barriere dell’egoismo e dell’indifferenza e si appella da sempre a una politica di chiusura e respingimento.

Noi speriamo davvero, come Habeshia, di essere smentiti. Ma – a meno di smentite, appunto – proprio questo emerge dalle sue parole riferite dai media. Parole che sembrano dimenticare che lasci la casa solo quando la casa non ti lascia più stare1Cordiali saluti,
Don Mussie Zerai, presidente dell’Agenzia Habeshia

Emilio Drudi, portavoce dell’Agenzia.

Roma, 8 dicembre 2016

1 – Giuseppe Cederna, Home. I versi successivi dicono: Nessuno lascia la casa a meno che la casa non ti cacci fuoco sotto i piedi, sangue caldo in pancia, qualcosa che non avresti mai pensato di fare, finché la falce non ti ha segnato il collo di minacce…

giovedì 8 dicembre 2016

UNCTAD Trade and Development Board

Statement by H.E. Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva UNCTAD Trade and Development Board Geneva, 5 December 2016 
Mr. President, 
At the outset, the Holy See would like to thank you for your ability to bring all the Member States to a substantive result in achieving the “Nairobi Maafikiano” during the Ministerial Conference. Allow me also to express our appreciation to the Director General and the Secretariat for the preparation of the Trade and Development Board and for the outcome achieved by UNCTAD this year through the approval of its mandate for the next quadrennium. In Nairobi, last July, States were able to discuss and address the contemporary needs and priorities of developing countries in the current volatile and unbalanced global environment. As is also stated in the Nairobi Maafikiano “UNCTAD was established to promote an inclusive global economy, through informing national and international policies, while giving priority consideration for the needs and interests of developing countries. This would lead to better standards of life and create a better and more effective system of international economic cooperation whereby the division of the world into areas of poverty and plenty may be banished and prosperity achieved by all”. 
Throughout history, trade has helped to transform economies, reshaping the division of wealth and power. More recently, advances in technology and in communications allows developing countries to enter international markets through specialization in specific tasks and intermediate products. In addition, the international community has taken steps to make the world trading system more equitable and has expanded World Trade Organization (WTO) membership to include most of the developing countries. The world economy in 2016 is still in a fragile state, with growth likely to dip below the 2.5 per cent registered in 2014 and 2015. The mediocre performance of developed countries since the 2008–2009 economic and financial crisis is predicted to endure, with the added threat that the loss of momentum in developing countries over the past few years will be greater than was previously anticipated. The trade slowdown of the last years has been widespread across most of the developing and developed countries. Average trade growth rates for all regions are now very low and just a fraction of what they were in the pre-crisis period. The reasons for the ongoing trade slowdown are to be found in a variety of factors. While some of these factors are likely to have only temporary effects and maybe cyclical in nature, others are likely to be more long lasting and related to structural shifts. The economic system is based on mechanisms that are not, however, automatic. They work if initiated with the right intention and appropriate levels of spiritual, physical, human and social “capital”. The great global contradiction in history has been the rapid growth of affluence in some areas of the world while others have remained cut off and at the margins. Global markets can be good servants but bad masters; and ceding more authority to those markets is a matter of political choice, not economic or technological destiny. The economic slowdown in developed economies rules out any simple explanation that those choices are the product of a rigged North-South game. Indeed, the combination of slower growth and rising inequality in these economies has left its own trail of depressed communities. The big political challenge facing the international community is therefore to move beyond a mapping of the winners and losers, of moving from globalization to a more constructive narrative of building shared prosperity. As recalled in the political Declaration Nairobi Azimio: “We still face an unequal global distribution of resources and opportunities, but today we are better placed to take concrete actions that can address the inequalities between and among countries and peoples. In 2015, world leaders agreed on how to better position the international community to address some of the most pressing global challenges. These agreements and outcomes collectively offer a blueprint for how the global economy, society and environment should look in 2030”. The policies of multilateral institutions, the set of 17 goals of the Post-2015 Agenda cannot merely attempt to achieve a kind of “efficient equilibrium” from the spontaneous outcomes of self-interested actions. We must strive instead for the common good, which requires, on the one hand, both effort and self-restraint of every member of a group, society, or community of nations, and, on the other hand, cooperation among them. The ground for the common good must be prepared step by step and day by day, by continuous and conscientious efforts in two directions—one structural and the other virtuous: the goodness of institutional structures help promote the common good, while the virtuous behavior of persons helps transform institutions. This is what is required to address the fundamental questions that are related to the financial crisis and the quest for solutions to it. Thus, when we talk about the common good, we need to recognize that “the degree of its realization in any given historical moment  depends on the readiness of members of the group to act according to their profound vocation of brotherly humanity.” As usual, it is very difficult to make predictions, but if we want to give the 2030 Agenda an opportunity to succeed we should continue to implement the Addis Ababa Action Agenda which calls us to redirect the national and international investment regime towards sustainable development. It is time to embrace a transformative shift to translate declarations into actions, and commitments into achievements. It is no longer enough for us to restate our position after having negotiated a balanced Ministerial mandate, our common goal should be to make it work in order to transform our decision into action and achieve this ambitious goal formulated in the 2030 Agenda. Thank you, 
Mr. President.

1 Cfr. TD/519/Add.2, par. 8 
2 Dembinski, Finanzen und Fristen: Krise der Kongruenz zwischen Realität und Virtualität der Zeit, in Religion-Wirtschaft-Politik: Vol. 8. Kapitalismus – eine Religion in der Krise I. Grundprobleme von Risiko, Vertrauen, Schuld, eds. G. Pfleiderer & P. Seele, pp. 282–322, Zürich, 2013.

(IOM) – 107th Session of the Council Geneva,

Statement by H.E. Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva International Organization for Migration (IOM) – 107th Session of the Council Geneva, 
6 December 2016 
Mr. Chairperson, 
The Delegation of the Holy See wishes to congratulate the Director General and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on its 65th anniversary and commend its dedication in promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all. This year will be remembered as particularly significant for the IOM and for global migration: the IOM formally entered a closer legal and working relationship with the United Nations, becoming a Related Organization. In addition, last September the world came together in a UN General Assembly Summit of Heads of State on refugees and migrants – indeed, for the first time in 71 years, the focus was also on migration – and adopted the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. At the same time, regrettably, 2016 will also go down in history as the year when large numbers of migrants, well over six-thousand, lost their lives in search of a better life. Pope Francis has repeatedly expressed concern for migrants through his words and actions, and he has assumed direct responsibility for migrant issues within the new Curial Dicastery for integral human development. Mr. Chairperson, The number of people on the move in search of better opportunities, often fleeing from conflicts, famine, religious persecution, climate change and natural disasters, continues to increase incessantly. The motives for migration movements should cause us to question seriously our achievements as a human family and urge us to create what Pope Francis defined as a new "social economy" based on inclusion and justice, serving the many, not the few, and ultimately making migration an opportunity and a choice rather than a compelling decision.  What is even worse, migrants are often treated as numbers and commodities, and are too often perceived as a threat instead of a resource for the host society. It is important to remember that behind the statistics are persons who are no different from our own family members and friends, “each of them with a name, a face, a story and aspirations, as well as an inalienable right to live in peace” (Pope Francis, Address to members of the European Confederation and World Union of Jesuit Alumni and Alumnae, Rome, 17 September 2016). The transfer of resources, skills, knowledge, and ideas through migration is substantial but it is often overlooked. Moreover, the local integration in the host countries remains a critical challenge: many migrants continue to live and to work in precarious conditions and they face stereotyping and discrimination; they are often marginalized and without access to social services. When migrants are not integrated into society they become isolated, creating a dangerous culture of mutual distrust and suspicion. We need to replace such a culture with a culture of dialogue and encounter. Migration, integration and development are interdependent and mutually reinforcing phenomena. The great contribution of migrants becomes real and effective when they are recognized as partners in economic development, when their human rights are respected and, at the same time, when they appreciate the basic values of the host society, aware that a better and just future may be built only together. Mr. Chairperson, The New York Declaration is a positive change of attitude and an attempt to build bridges among societies. It expresses the political will to save lives, protecting the dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants, regardless of their migratory status, at all times (Para. 41, New York Declaration). It also acknowledges that migration is not a problem to be solved but a human reality that should be managed through a multilateral approach. The Holy See wishes to express its support for the IOM’s endeavors in this matter and wants to assure its readiness to collaborate actively in the negotiations leading to the Global Compact, bringing to bear its own experience in the field of international migration. Such a process should channel all efforts towards the achievement of significant and far-sighted results and it should be guided by a spirit of solidarity, by the centrality of the human person and his or her dignity and by a desire to promote integral human development. In this regard, my Delegation fully supports and thanks the Director General, Ambassador William Lacy Swing, in his offer to serve as Secretary General of the inter-governmental conference in 2018 and for his proposal to dedicate the International Dialogue on Migration to the discussions on the Global Compact. At the same time, it could be useful to reconstitute the IOM-UN Working Group as a Working Group on the Global Compact on Migration in order to channel all efforts towards the achievement of significant and far-sighted results.  Mr. Chairperson, Of particular concern for the Holy See is the vulnerability of child migrants, to whom Pope Francis dedicated his Message for the 2017 World Day of Migrants and Refugees. “...Children constitute the most vulnerable group, because as they face the life ahead of them, they are invisible and voiceless: their precarious situation deprives them of documentation, hiding them from the world’s eyes; the absence of adults to accompany them prevents their voices from being raised and heard.” (Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2017). The number of children on the move is growing exponentially. All over the world, conflict affects 246 million children and many of them face forced displacement, rights violations, lack of access to basic services and health and nutrition challenges.1 They often fall victim to perverse scourges such as child trafficking, exploitation, and abuse. No matter where they are or where they come from, all children have individual needs and rights even when they cross borders. Minors, given their vulnerability, have different needs than adults and policies must prioritize their best interests at all stages. Mr. Chairperson, Children are the first among those who pay the heavy price of migration, almost always caused by violence, poverty, environmental imbalances, and disasters, as well as the negative aspects of globalization. Let us be brave and resolute in our commitment to tackle the causes which trigger forced migration in the countries of origin. Thank you, 
Mr. Chairperson. 

 1 Refugee_and_Migrant_Crisis_Advocacy_Web_12_11_15.pdf