Father Zerai of Habeshia says walls won't stop migrant flows

'Use millions in defence spending to invest in development'

20 April, 16:23

    (ANSAmed) - ROME, APRIL 20 - Father Mussie Zerai, president of the Hebeshia Agency, told the Religious Information Service news agency (SIR) that the migrant influx won't stop, so it must be handled "at the root of the problem" rather than through building walls.

    "The flows won't stop, so the response shouldn't be repression, walls, closures, and barbed wire," Zerai said.

    "What Europe doesn't want to understand is that you have to go to the root of the problem. In places where there are conflicts, injustice, and rights violations, healing is needed," he said.

    Father Zerai is one of the organisers behind "Alarm Phone", a hotline headquartered in Germany that helps manage calls for help from boats on the Mediterranean, thanks to about 30 volunteers who speak the migrants' various languages.

    The volunteers, who are located throughout Europe, distribute the calls to the Coast Guards in Italy and Malta. They also collect information and do advocacy work, raising public awareness and reporting violations.

    Their latest report documents the "migrant block" that Europe wanted that's taking place in some African countries, which it said is creating serious human rights violations.

    "Police continue to conduct roundups in these countries, or on the main migrant travel routes, and migrants end up in detention centres in Algeria and Sudan," Father Zerai said.

    "In Sudan, the roundups are carried out by so-called 'devils on horses'. They pick up the migrants, and if the migrants pay, they let them go, otherwise they deliver them to the Sudanese police who bring them to detention centres. But even police ask the migrants for money to let them go, otherwise they take them before a court where they get sentenced to forced repatriation," he said.

    "Instead of spending millions and billions on defence mechanisms, let's spend the money to create decent living conditions and security in countries of origin, or in neighbouring countries who are already receiving hundreds of thousands of refugees".(ANSAmed).

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