6 May 2016

Refugees are dying every day trying to reach Europe by boat. After the tragic shipwrecks of April 2015, EU leaders convened throughout the year to try and address the situation but no comprehensive solutions to reach Europe safely were adopted. As a result of the lack of legal avenues, people continued to risk their lives and undertake treacherous journeys. At the end of 2015, almost 4,000 people lost their lives  on their way to Europe. 2016 has continued to see large numbers of lives being lost at sea. Less than ten days after a devastating shipwreck that left up to 500 dead, two more tragic incidents took place  in the Central Mediterranean. On Friday 29 April, 99 people died, including a new-born baby, in a shipwreck just off the coast of Libya. Later that day, during a rescue operation, 15 refugees went missing and are now presumed dead. Both boats tried to reach the EU trough the dangerous Central Mediterranean route, but they did not make it far from their departure location of Sabratah in Libya. These two disasters bring the total number of deaths at sea in 2016 to at least 1,360.

Over 100 deaths on a single day show yet again that there is a need for safe and legal channels for people in need of protection to enter Europe. Closing the Balkan Route in combination with the EU-Turkey deal has resulted in people needing to undertake more arduous journeys to try and reach safety in Europe. The only way of putting an end to deaths at sea is to open safe and legal channels and to allow people to travel to Europe in safety and with dignity.

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