One year after 366 refugees died off Lampedusa, refugees still have no other choice but to risk their lives in order to seek protection. NGOs across Europe, including ECRE, have criticised Europe’s inaction to prevent further loss of lives at sea and have called on EU States to provide ways for refugees to reach the EU in a legal and safe way.
“Today it is virtually impossible to come to Europe in a legal and safe way. Migrants are forced to put their lives in the hands of traffickers and smugglers who are making huge profits by exploiting their misery and despair”, EU Commissioner Cecilia Malmström acknowledged.
Regarding the possible termination of Italy’s Mare Nostrum operation, which has saved more than 140,000 people since October, and the more limited scope of a joint Frontex operation in the area, NGOs warned that if the search and rescue efforts are downsized, the death toll in the Mediterranean will rise. Civil society called for a truly European response to guarantee sustainable and effective search and rescue in the Mediterranean.
Furthermore, organisations called for action to better support refugees and countries at the borders of the EU. UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants François Crépeau said: “There is also an urgent need to allow migrants to circulate within the EU to where they can be reunited with their families, or find a job and start contributing to their new communities. Trying to confine them to the territory of the frontline countries obliges migrants to continue traveling underground, further empowering mafias and unscrupulous employers, and places undue responsibilities on such frontline countries”.
For further information
- Corriere della Sera and RAI Fiction, in cooperation with Italian Navy, Catia’s Choice – 80 miles south of Lampedusa, Trailer, First episode, (in Italian), September 2014
- ECRE & Pro Asyl, One year after Lampedusa, EU action still needed to prevent further deaths at sea, 2 October 2014
- ECRE Weekly Bulletin, Editorial, Business as usual: yet another refugee tragedy on EU borders, 19 September 2014
- ECRE Weekly Bulletin, Op-Ed by Meron Estefanos, International Commission on Eritrean Refugees, Joining your family – When a rickety boat is your only choice, 3 October 2014
- ECRE Weekly Bulletin, Amnesty International: Lives adrift – Refugees and migrants in peril in the Central Mediterranean, 3 October 2014
- Médecins Sans Frontières, Italy and the EU must not abandon refugees at sea, 2 October 2014
- Human Rights Watch, Honor Lampedusa’s Dead by Sustaining Boat Rescue, 2 October 2014
- Jesuit Refugee Service, Safe passage into Europe needed for refugees, 2 October 2014
- CCME, One year after the tragedy off Lampedusa, 2 October 2014
- Caritas Europa, Europe cannot remain indifferent to what happened in Lampedusa, 3 October 2014
- European Commission, Commissioner Cecilia Malmström commemorates the Lampedusa tragedy, 2 October 2014
- UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants François Crépeau, Open Letter on EU border management: Europe can stop human deaths and suffering, and regain control of its borders, 29 September 2014
- Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muižnieks, Europe, wake up!, 30 September 2014
- UNHCR, Mediterranean crossings more deadly a year after Lampedusa tragedy, 2 October 2014
- UNHCR, Eritrean survivor of Lampedusa tragedy returns to honour the dead, meet Pope Francis, 2 October 2014
- Deutsche Welle, Lampedusa: Warnings on the anniversary (in German), 3 October 2014
- Associated Press/ABC News, Pope Urges Europe to Open Doors to Refugees, 1 October 2014
This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 3 October 2014. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.