26 June 2015

In a new publication, “Mari e Muri“, Caritas Italiana examines the natural and artificial obstacles that migrants and refugees have to cross, as they risk their lives to seek protection and find a better, safer future. In particular, the paper describes the situation in the Gulf of Aden (the Red Sea), across which, in 2014, over 82,000 people have fled conflicts, persecution, environmental disasters and food insecurity. These human adversities, in the Horn of Africa, include Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti.

The report highlights that, according to the latest IOM figures, of the 100,000 migrants who, cross the Gulf every year to Yemen and the Arabic peninsula, not everyone is able to survive: in 2014 alone, 265 migrants died in the Gulf of Aden’s. Furthermore, Caritas points out that of those who finally reach Yemen, many become victims of human trafficking, torture, sexual abuse, violence and in some cases killings.

Moreover, due to the civil conflict in Yemen, Caritas notes that refugees also began their dangerous journey in the opposite direction, heading south, crossing the Gulf, to Djibouti. Reportedly, by the end of April 2015, almost 500 Yemeni refugees were registered in Djibouti; while others were forced to flee the country by plane.

The report stresses that developed countries have largely been responsible for creating the economic, political and environmental circumstances which encourage people to flee; only to forcibly return many of those refugees and migrants who seek protection in Europe.

Caritas raises further concerns about other barriers, such as: Ceuta e Melilla, the Saharawi “wall of shame” between Morocco and the former West-Sahara; the Tijuana barrier between Mexico and the United States; the Israeli-Gaza wall, the wall between India and Bangladesh and that between Iran and Pakistan. In addition, one could add the barrier at the border with Serbia, recently announced  by Hungary. Whilst these are physical barriers, Caritas reminds us of the other , metaphorical, walls that divide our societies, inhibiting the mission to promote the fundamental rights to freedom of movement for every human being.

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This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 26 June 2015. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.