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On the occasion of the 33rd anniversary of the creation of the Jesuit Refugee Service, Centro Astalli presented its research Forget the Borders of Europe, carried out in collaboration with JRS Europe and the Pedro Arrupe Institute of Political Formation in Palermo. The report tells to the story of forced migrants who have managed to arrive in Europe in the last three years.

Forget the Borders of Europe is based on 117 qualitative interviews carried out in the Spanish enclave of Melilla, Sicily, Malta, Greece, Romania, Croatia and Serbia. Its aim is to give a voice to migrants and refugees, to make clear the link between what they have experienced and the European policies that governments have adopted.

Luca Liverani, a journalist with Avvenire, moderated the meeting which was held on 13 November in Rome. In his introductory words, Fr. Camillo Ripamonti, President of Centro Astalli, stressed that there is a real emergency at Europe’s borders when it comes to the protection of human rights. Research shows this is due to the lack of legal access and the closure of major migration routes by EU countries. “What got us here is the lack of foresight of the states/countries involved”, he added.

Momodou, a young refugee from Senegal, told of the difficulties of his long journey, of his detention in Libya, of his difficult sea crossing in a rubber dinghy with 117 people and of his integration in Italy, where he now lives and works, thanks to the humanitarian protection that has been granted to him, but not without concern for the uncertain future that awaits him.

As Chiara Peri who is responsible for the Italian version of the research pointed out, "protection will be less and less accessible even in Italy" following the examination of new measures in the field of asylum by Parliament. This push is oblivious to Pope Francis’ repeated call about "protecting people being more important than protecting borders".

For Fr. Jose Ignacio Garcia, JRS Europe Director, "EU policies have succeeded in reducing the number of arrivals by sea in Italy and Greece, but they have clearly failed, and continue to fail, in their goal of improving the situation of the many people seeking protection who continue to find themselves forgotten at the borders of Europe". That is why we need "to join your voices with ours in calling for a radical political change for a Europe capable of offering reception, protection and integration opportunities for refugees".

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