Yesterday, António Guterres published an essay in Time, speaking to the urgent need for Western nations to step up and address the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean. Earlier this week, a boat carrying hundreds of migrants overturned off the coast of Libya; with only 50 people rescued from the boat, the incident may be the deadliest known migrant tragedy in the Mediterranean, and is a grim reminder of the need for a more proactive and expansive system of protection for refugees.
“Western nations must also commit to creating more legal alternatives for refugees to find protection, such as expanded resettlement and humanitarian admission schemes, enhanced family reunification, private sponsorship arrangements, and work and study visas,” wrote Guterres in Time. “If Western nations continue to respond primarily by shutting their doors, we will keep driving thousands of desperate people into the hands of a growing criminal underworld, making us all less secure.”
These words resonate deeply with IRAP’s mission. In advocating for refugees around the world, IRAP strives to ensure that current systems of protection are in fact accessible to the most vulnerable, and that they do, in practice, succeed in bringing people to safety. Too often, these systems are inadequate, pushing those at risk to pursue alternative, perilous routes to safety. This week’s boat tragedy reveals how deadly these alternatives can be.
Protecting those forced to flee their homes is a matter of national security, and is a fundamental part of our commitment to freedom and democracy. The United States has a responsibility to make good on this commitment. As Guterres writes, “The moment has arrived for us all to step up to the plate, not just those on the front lines. We need to put our values into practice. Because values which we relinquish when the going gets tough are no values at all.”
You can read Gutteres’ full piece here.