IFRC Secretary General, Elhadj As Sy Remarks to the press, Catania, Sicily, 21 April 2015

Publié: 22 avril 2015

Thank you for joining us this afternoon to break the silence on a situation that is now profoundly hitting our shared humanity. Thank you for joining us as we try to bring a halt to the indifference that the world has shown by only tallying the number of people who have died, before they finally woke up to a global tragedy of so many people on the move.

When we talk about these issues we tend to talk about the number of people who have died, the number of people who have arrived on the shores of Europe. But this issue is not about numbers, it is not about figures. It is about real people. Behind each number you will find a story of a once very proud father, a mother who wants the best for her children, like you and I, the story of a child who came into the world in a situation that forces his or her parents to be on the move.

These strategies for survival have placed people in the face of hardship, most of the time knowing the dangers related to travelling by boat, or what is referred to as a boat, but is really not a boat. Only to then confront the Mediterranean Sea, which is becoming a vast graveyard for all of them.

Beyond what is needed now, we call on our shared humanity to put people at the centre and make it our humanitarian imperative to respond to their needs – to recover what they cherish most and what they have lost; their human dignity. To allow them to have the self-esteem they are entitled to and the respect of others that they deserve. It is our common responsibility to support them in building a better future for themselves, preferably in their respective countries, and if not, where opportunities can be made available to them.

It is very unfortunate that we are meeting this afternoon not to welcome the hundreds or thousands of people who made it safely on the shores of Sicily.

Instead, we are gathered here today to deplore and mourn the hundreds of tragic deaths.

This is a paradoxical situation that illustrates the issues we are talking about, and underscores our humanitarian imperative, which I've mentioned before and which has moved the Italian Red Cross, under the able leadership of President Rocca to make no distinction between the people of your country and the people in your country, because they are all people.

It is not about legal or illegal status. It is about focusing on the human being. We salute the generosity of the Italian people, who have shared their hospitality and understanding, and who are also the ones bearing the highest burden in Europe, with regard to this situation.

We are here today to stand side-by-side with the Italian Red Cross, to support them in responding to the needs of the most vulnerable.

We are also here to make certain that a situation such as this does not repeat itself. With your support, we call upon people all around the world, wherever they might be – in the country of departure, on the road, in transit, at the port of arrival – to exercise our common humanity to support those who are most in need.