Polish archbishop calls on govt to welcome refugees

Poland is among those EU members to have refused to accept quotas for asylum-seekers from North Africa and Middle East


Afp January 15, 2018
Poland is among those EU members to have refused to accept quotas for asylum-seekers from North Africa and Middle East. PHOTO: AFP

WARSAW: Polish Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki on Monday called on his Catholic country to welcome refugees, saying altruism must trump the right-wing government's concern for national security.

Poland is among several EU members in central Europe to have refused to accept quotas for asylum-seekers from North Africa and the Middle East, causing the bloc to take the countries to court last year.

"Everyone would like to live in security, except that that attitude has little to do with Christianity," said Gadecki, the president of the Polish Episcopal Conference.

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"Personal egoism, meaning concern for one's own safety, has the upper hand over altruism, or the attitude of focussing on helping others," he told reporters.

"Regarding the issue of refugees and asylum-seekers, the most important point of reference can't be the interest of the state or national security, but the human being."

The EU launched its controversial relocation scheme in September 2015 to deal with the biggest wave of refugees in its history. More than 1.1 million people arrived that year, most of them fleeing the conflict in Syria.

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Poland has instead chosen to focus on humanitarian aid in the Middle East to deal with the flow of refugees at the source.

Gadecki applauded that help, but added: "That doesn't solve the whole problem, because some percentage of the people aren't able to return to their countries."

"These people must be taken care of, whether we want to or not."

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