UNHCR and MSF have released reports underlining the consequences of EU migration policies restricting access to the EU. Without safe and legal access to protection, migrants are at the mercy of smugglers and pushed to risk their lives on ever more dangerous routes.

The UNHCR report ‘Desperate Journeys’ establishes that while an increasing number of people seeking protection entered the EU by crossing the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy, the number of crossings to Europe from Morocco and Turkey went down compared to 2015. UNHCR further highlights the fact that the proportion of children among people entering Italy has doubled in the last year. In Greece, 87 percent of migrants arriving are coming from the world’s top ten refugee producing countries.

The MSF report ‘Dying to Reach Europe: Eritreans in search of safety’ is based on testimonies of Eritreans who fled their country. The report highlights the dire living situation of Eritrean neighbour states Sudan and Ethiopia leaving Eritreans with limited regional alternatives and making them the second largest nationality arriving in Italy in 2016 and largest in 2015. All Eritreans interviewed by MSF had suffered from or witnessed severe violence during their journey. Every single interviewee have been held captive at some point during their refuge, while half have seen fellow refugees die.

“It is vital that the EU, Member States and other governments provide channels to safety and protection for […] people fleeing conflict and persecution. Efforts to manage migration should not externalise border controls to unsafe countries – wherever they may be – or make aid funds conditional on preventing migration,” stresses MSF General Director Arjan Hehenkamp. Heads of State and Government meet in Brussels in the end of this week to discuss progress on decision taken at the informal Malta summit concerning the Central Mediterranean Route.

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Photo: UNHCR, Desperate Journeys