Over the last two weeks, a tragic series of shipwrecks has claimed the lives of at least 1,440 people, according to the incidents reported by IOM Missing Migrants. In the latest of the shipwrecks, at least 320 are feared dead or missing while trying to reach the Greek island of Crete.


While the number of arrivals are almost at the same level as last year, the number of deaths has soared. The chances of dying at sea crossing through the Central Mediterranean are now of 1 in 23, as stated by UNHCR. “Analysis by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor said that during the week of May 23 to May 30, an average of five refugees drowned per hour as they tried to flee to Europe,” reported Al Jazeera.

As ECRE stated in numerous occasions, these deaths are not only tragically predictable, but can be avoided. ECRE reiterates its calls for the opening of safe and legal channels to the EU, in the form of humanitarian visas, faster and less cumbersome family reunification policies and stronger commitments in terms of resettlement which do not depend on people risking their lives at sea.

As long as there will be people whose best choice is to take a leaky boat to perceived safety, there will be smugglers providing a service, which will be more dangerous, costly and inhumane. Preventing people from entering the EU by making agreements such as the EU-Turkey deal or replicating it with other countries, will only make smugglers’ businesses thrive.


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This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 10 June 2016. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.