Violence against refugees, displaced people and stateless women and girls is an entrenched phenomenon that has continued to worsen in recent years.
According to data provided by UNHCR, one in five migrant women have been subjected to sexual violence, not to mention all the other women who have suffered torture and inhumane treatment.
If being a woman is complicated in all parts of the world, living in certain countries or being forced to abandon everything and seek salvation in another land further worsens the conditions women and girls are exposed to.
My thoughts go to Afghanistan, where hundreds of women are kidnapped and killed with unprecedented violence, especially if they are activists, if they have important roles or if they are engaged in the protection and promotion of human rights.
One hundred days after the Taliban took power, women seem to have been completely abandoned and nine million people are victims of famine due to lack of food and medicine.
The number of undernourished children continues to grow day by day, at least 3.5 million children suffer from severe malnutrition, a number destined to increase dramatically in the coming months. In total desperation, some parents are forced to sell one of their children to allow other members of the family to survive.
The situation for displaced and migrant women and children is desperate in Europe as well. In the stretch of sea that separates France from the United Kingdom, at least 30 people lost their lives as a boat was sinking, including five women and a young girl.
These are scenes that we cannot continue to witness without concrete action.
Many women and children find themselves stranded on the border between Poland and Belarus. A few days ago, in the rugged forest where he had been with his parents for almost two months, a one-year-old Syrian child lost his life. The cold and the absence of food and water for weeks have been fatal for both children and adults who have not made it over the border.
While Belarus is a key political actor in the evolving crisis, what is even more unacceptable is the non-compliance of Poland and of EU institutions to the human rights treaties. They breach them through illegal pushbacks of people with the right to international protection at the borders of the European Union.
The Belarus route to Europe is not new- Regina Catrambone
In addition to not guaranteeing basic living conditions and banning access to NGOs and associations, Poland is using force and violence against migrant people by arresting those who cross the barrier, separating some families and using water cannons, stun grenades and tear gas to disperse the thousands of migrants.
The Belarus route to Europe is not new. People fleeing Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Congo and Cameroon have arrived on direct charter flights from Baghdad to Minsk. Once the flights were suspended last August due to pressure from the EU, the arrivals continued through alternative flights from Dubai, Damascus and Amman or through entry from Ukraine and Turkey.
When Polish officials closed the crossing with Belarus, hundreds of migrants were stranded, victims of an inhuman and silent war triggered by Minsk and exploited by Warsaw. The Polish authorities then announced the construction of a border wall that will be completed by the middle of next year.
“Stop sacrificing migrant lives to political dispute,” this was the heartfelt appeal launched by the United Nations. But, in the meantime, the European Parliament and the vice president of the European Commission, Margaritis Schinas, have explained that no plans are in place to accept and examine migrants’ requests for protection in the area.
There have been attempts to instigate dialogue between the parties, the most recent happening on November 22 between Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi (on behalf of the EU) and Russian President Vladimir Putin, in which they both asked the Belarusian government to halt this intolerable situation.
However, Belarus continues to use the migration issue to destabilise the EU and the Russian president blames the EU that would have interrupted the dialogue on readmissions between Minsk and Brussels.
Meanwhile, the number of walls and fences is constantly growing, and governments are cultivating the illusion of national security at the expense of the most vulnerable.
Children, women and men continue to suffer and die along the borders of Europe, on land and at sea, and at all the borders of the world. Indifference seems to be the only answer that politics and civil society are able to give.
My heartfelt appeal is addressed to all supranational, national and local authorities so that the rights of migrants and, in particular, the rights of displaced women and girls, can be guaranteed because it is not acceptable that they are forced to suffer all the indifference and inhumanity of the world.