Dortmund – ESI at discussion on the Mediterranean and migration

19 November 2023
Photo: Michael Bodin/Erzbistum Paderborn

ESI’s Gerald Knaus was invited to speak at the Dortmunder Kommendefest on the topic of “Humane strategy for migration instead of illegal violence” organised by the Social Institute of the Archdiocese of Paderborn.

In his presentation, Gerald described the situation in the Mediterranean, which has become a huge graveyard. Gerald said that this year alone 200,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean irregularly, thousands of them dying en route. Moreover, tens of thousands are being smuggled overland, via Belarus and the Balkans into the European Union irregularly. In Germany the municipalities which have taken in around one million people from Ukraine have reached their limits. 

Gerald reminded the audience of Pope Francis’ grief for the deaths in the Mediterranean and his warning that “we are at a crossroads of civilisation”. Gerald said that on the one hand, there is the path of fraternity, on the other an indifference that stains the Mediterranean with blood. Therefore, to ensure a broad consensus in favour of the right to asylum in the European democracies, innovative solutions are required. 

He said that the goal for EU countries should be a triad of fast and fair asylum procedures, strategic deportations, and generous assistance for countries of first asylum. Asylum procedures should be conducted in a manner that demonstrates to other countries the feasibility of granting asylum, while also aiding countries around the world in establishing their own asylum systems. 

Such an approach would deter individuals who do not require protection from irregularly entering the country, by facilitating repatriation from key dates and offering legal mobility options. Expanding resettlement programmes is essential to lessen dependence on smugglers. Additionally, in line with the United Nations Global Compact for Refugees 2018, there should be an expansion of assistance for refugees in their first countries of refuge.

Photo: ESI

After his presentation, Gerald discussed with Lukas Trötzer, Global Refugees Sponsorship Initiative, Cologne, and Andreas Fisch, Kommende Dortmund and Michael Bredeck, Diocesan Administrator