The Worldwide Group for Migration (IOM), and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Company, are deeply saddened by the tragic dying of no less than 45 migrants and refugees on 17 August, within the largest recorded shipwreck off the Libyan coast this yr.
Some 37 survivors – primarily from Senegal, Mali, Chad and Ghana – have been rescued by native fishermen and later detained upon disembarkation. They reported to IOM employees that 45 others together with 5 youngsters misplaced their lives when the vessel’s engine exploded off the coast of Zwara.
The 2 organizations are calling for a overview of States’ strategy to the scenario after this newest tragic incident within the Mediterranean. There's an pressing have to strengthen the present search and rescue capability to answer misery calls.
There stays a continued absence of any devoted, EU-led search and rescue programme. We concern that with out an pressing enhance in search and rescue capability, is a danger of one other catastrophe just like incidents that noticed massive lack of life on the Central Mediterranean previous to the launch of Mare Nostrum.
NGO vessels have performed an important position in saving lives at sea amid a pointy discount in European state-led efforts. The humanitarian crucial of saving lives shouldn't be impeded and authorized and logistical restrictions on their work should rapidly be lifted.
UNHCR and IOM are deeply involved by latest delays in rescue and disembarkation. We urge states to swiftly reply to those incidents and systematically present a predictable port of security to individuals rescued at sea. Delays recorded in latest months, and failure to help, are unacceptable and put lives at avoidable danger. The place business vessels are the closest boat able to finishing up a rescue, they need to be promptly supplied with a secure port for disembarking the rescued passengers. They shouldn't be instructed to return individuals to Libya, the place they're prone to the continued battle, extreme human rights violations, and arbitrary detention post-disembarkation.
Duty for finishing up rescues is more and more being taken by the Libyan State vessels, which has led to greater than 7,000 individuals being returned to Libya up to now in 2020. Any help and tasks assigned to Libyan search and rescue entities needs to be made conditional on nobody being arbitrarily detained, ill-treated or subjected to human rights violations post-disembarkation. With out such ensures, assist needs to be reconsidered, and search and rescue tasks redefined.
At the least 302 migrants and refugees perished on this route up to now this yr. In line with IOM’s Lacking Migrants Challenge and UNHCR, the present estimated quantity of fatalities is probably going a lot greater.
IOM and UNHCR acknowledge the continued challenges introduced by sea arrivals and welcome the efforts of Mediterranean coastal States to proceed receiving rescued refugees and migrants. Within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, two thirds of European international locations have discovered methods to handle their borders successfully whereas permitting entry to their territories for individuals searching for asylum. Medical screenings at borders, well being certification or short-term quarantine upon arrival are among the measures put in place by a lot of European and different international locations. The pandemic shouldn't be used as an excuse to disclaim individuals entry to all types of worldwide safety.
Over 17,000 individuals have arrived in Italy and Malta this yr by boat from Libya and Tunisia, a threefold enhance in comparison with 2019. Nevertheless, the quantity has drastically decreased in comparison with years previous to 2019 and is manageable with political will and EU solidarity with European coastal States. We reiterate the pressing want to maneuver past advert hoc preparations to a swifter, extra predictable disembarkation mechanism.
The instability and lack of safety in Libya permits smugglers, traffickers, and criminals on the whole to behave with impunity as they prey on susceptible migrants and refugees.
UNHCR and IOM name on Libyan authorities to take agency steps in opposition to smugglers and traffickers. This could embrace disrupting and ending smuggling rings led by felony teams to forestall additional exploitation and abuse. The worldwide neighborhood ought to help these efforts and supply extra assist to the authorities of their struggle in opposition to human trafficking networks.
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