The Archbishop of Tangiers, in Morocco, Santiago Agrelo Martinez, is outraged at the way the E.U. is treating migrants. He claims that setting up camps in Africa where these migrants are to be processed would be tantamount to creating “concentration camps for people who have no rights.”
The Archbishop’s language is disconcerting. “Concentration camps” — we think immediately of the Nazis or the Soviets — were places that people were violently herded into, lived in subhuman conditions, and were shot if they tried to escape. In the camps themselves, they were beaten, starved, tortured, and murdered en masse.
The camps the European Union is planning to set up in Africa will be places where migrants will be examined as to their claims to asylum. If the claim is upheld, they will be assigned to a country in Europe that will take them in. If their claim is denied, they will be sent home. There of course will be no starving, beating, or killing. At any time, anyone in these camps can request that he, or she, be sent home. While in the camps, the E.U. will see to it that they receive perfectly adequate food, are given medical attention when necessary, and clothing suitable to the season and the climate. None of this, of course, occurs in real concentration camps. They are there not to be punished or harmed, but simply placed there so that their application may be properly weighed. They want to be in those processing centers, are glad to be there, for they recognize it as a step on the path — so they devoutly hope — to being admitted to Europe.