Last week marked the first anniversary of the tragic drowning of Alan Kurdi, whose lifeless body at a Turkish beach captured by a photo,caused an international outcry.One year after,many more continue to die at the external borders of the EU in their search for safety.According to UNHCR, since Alan Kurdi’s death,an average of 11 people have died per day of which two were children in the past 12 months, amounting to 4,176 deaths in the Mediterranean Sea.
“I have a voice, and I have to use it,”stressed Alan’s aunt. “It’s too late for my family but not for the others. We need a bigger table, not higher fences. If people are hungry, we must feed them… we all need each other one day.”
While the EU-Turkey agreement has resulted in less people arriving to Europe, this year has been one of the deadliest years on the Central Mediterranean route, which links Italy and Libya.“EU states have focused on policies to prevent people from departing for Europe and that crack down on smugglers, often arguing that this is the best way to save lives,” says Judith Sunderland from Human Rights Watch. “What the EU hasn’t done is create safe and legal channels to reach Europe – something that could help people avoid turning to smugglers in the first place.”
As ECRE reiterated on various occasions, resettlement can be a durable solution for many refugees. However, the pledge made collectively by EU governments in July 2015 to resettle 22,500 refugees in two years is far from being met with only 7,272 people resettled as of June 2016. The International Refugee Committee has also drawn attention to those who made it safely to the EU and are stuck in Greece, prevented from moving on with their lives.
“Until wealthy countries take more responsibility for the crisis unfolding before them, and take in a fairer share of the people fleeing war and persecution, they will be condemning thousands more children to risk their lives in desperate journeys or being trapped in refugee camps with no hope for the future,”says Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General stressing that the creation of legal pathways to the EU, including resettlement, private sponsorship, family reunification and student scholarship schemes, is the only way to prevent death at sea.
Calls to action to their own governments came from various NGOS,including ECRE member Scottish Refugee Council and British Refugee Council.”Later this month, world leaders will gather in New York and Washington to agree solutions to the global refugee crisis, but the time for talking is over. We need to see all countries, including Britain, taking concrete action that prioritises sharing responsibility for protecting refugees and offering more people safe passage. Lives depend on it,”British Refugee Council Head of Advocacy Dr.Lisa Doyle said.
For further Information:
- EU Fundamental Rights Agency,One year on, refugee children still need greater protection, 2 September 2016