Episode
July 9, 2019

Why are European aid workers arrested for helping refugees?

Scores of humanitarians have faced prosecution as climate for people seeking asylum worsens across the continent.
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On Tuesday, July 9 at 19:30 GMT:
The recent high-profile arrest of a German boat captain who brought Africans seeking refuge into an Italian port has highlighted the legal challenges that humanitarians across Europe face when providing help to people fleeing war and persecution.

Carola Rackete was accused of endangering police officers when her boat Sea-Watch 3 trapped a police patrol vessel as she brought about 40 people to land at Lampedusa, Sicily. She was held under house arrest until a judge ordered her release pending further investigation. But other humanitarians face an uncertain future. Two volunteers with the Emergency Response Centre International (ERCI) are facing a court case in Greece on charges of people smuggling, money laundering and espionage; they are among 104 people who were investigated or prosecuted for providing aid in 2018, according to a report by a migration and asylum monitoring organisation released in June.

Humanitarian workers and agencies are pushing back through the courts, challenging a European Union framework they say enables member states to arrest volunteers during the course of their life-saving work. But all the while, the climate for thousands of people seeking safety in Europe grows colder and darker, with border officials in Hungary reportedly denying food to detained asylum seekers in an attempt to force them to abandon their application.

We'll meet humanitarian volunteers who have put their own liberty on the line to help people in need and consider whether Europe can be counted on to shelter and protect the vulnerable. Join the conversation.

Read more:
Is showing compassion to migrants a crime? – The Guardian
Refugee advocates blast arrests of rescue workers in Greece – Al Jazeera

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