Compassion envers les migrants

GENÈVE – Le destin tragique de plusieurs centaines d'Africains noyés près de l'île italienne de Lampedusa en octobre a fait les gros titres de la presse internationale. Cet épisode a débouché sur un rare moment de compassion et de réflexion sur les dangers auxquels sont confrontés de nombreux migrants. Mais le seul aspect exceptionnel de cette catastrophe a été le grand nombre de victimes. Pour les habitants de Lampedusa, les épaves de réfugiés et les migrants sont un phénomène fréquent : une semaine plus tard, un bateau transportant des réfugiés syriens et palestiniens a chaviré au large des côtes de l'île, faisant plus de 30 morts.

L'année 2013 a prouvé, s'il était encore nécessaire d'en faire la preuve, que ces catastrophes ne se limitent pas aux côtes européennes ni à la mer Méditerranée. En novembre, près de 30 Haïtiens ont péri dans le naufrage de leur bateau en route pour les États-Unis, le troisième cas dans le Nord des Caraïbes depuis le mois d'octobre. Le long de la frontière américano-mexicaine, le déploiement des contrôles sophistiqués aux frontières a forcé des personnes à mourir de faim en essayant de passer par des étendues reculées du désert. Dans la région Asie-Pacifique, des centaines de migrants et de réfugiés se sont noyés cette année dans la baie du Bengale ou en tentant d'atteindre l'Australie.

Les Etats et régions riches sont confrontés au dilemme de la conception de contrôles aux frontières qui répondent non seulement aux besoins et demandes de leur population, mais aussi aux responsabilités de ceux qui cherchent à entrer sur leur territoire. Rien de tout cela n'est nouveau : depuis l'invention des frontières nationales, les gens les traversent, officiellement ou non. Que ce soit à la recherche d'opportunités économiques ou pour échapper à la violence ou à des catastrophes écologiques, les pays hôtes ont fait preuve à la fois de leur bienveillance et de leur méfiance.

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