In the 1960s, the American television network ABC aired the serial “The Fugitive“. A man, doctor Richard Kimble, is wrongly accused of murdering his wife and subsequently condemned to death. By chance he manages to escape. While on the run from the police he is trying to find the culprit and in the final episode he succeeds in doing so.
No happy ending today, however, for refugees who got stuck somewhere on the border of the European Union. At the end of June 2011, the Jesuit Refugee Service Europe published an account of the detention of asylum seekers in Ukraine: No other options. It paints a grim picture of their life.
These refugees are not prosecuted for having committed some heinous crime. On the contrary, they are guilty, first and foremost, of leaving their country seeking a better place to live. However, unlike doctor Kimble’s, this is a kind of guilt you cannot get rid of.
Obviously, these refugees did not succeed in finding a new home: they were apprehended on their way to the EU or send back to Ukraine after entering the EU. Ukraine is a poor country and receives EU funding to shelter those refugees, but still the authorities are unable to provide adequate care and services. Often, asylum seekers are denied their fundamental rights or even expelled from Ukraine in contravention of international law. Furthermore, people of colour are looked down upon. They may face racism and violence.
It is in this context that the Jesuit Refugee Service Europe wants to provide much needed care and attention, and to encourage Ukrainian and European authorities to deal with refugees humanely and respectfully.
See also the entry “Solidarity“. (FH)