12 Feb 15 28 Nov 16

MSF calls on European Union to stop putting migrants' lives at risk

Medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has called on the European Union (EU) to stop putting thousands of lives at risk and immediately reassess its policies on migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, and those on border controls, following the reported deaths of about 300 people whilst attempting to cross the Mediterranean sea.
“With escalating instability in Libya, Syria and Iraq, we will only see the number of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees continue to grow as more people flee war,” said Manu Moncada, Operations Coordinator in Italy. “Over-restrictive border control policies of EU member states have left the dangerous Mediteranian sea route as the only option available to migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, attempting to reach Europe from North Africa. “Italy and other EU member states have to stand-up and take responsibility to prevent these unnecessary deaths,” he said.
Last year MSF expressed concerns that the situation would only worsen following the closure of the Italian-led search and rescue operation known as ‘Mare Nostrum’. Now as the peak season for migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean will start again in the coming months, MSF reiterates the need for a dedicated search and rescue operation to aid those who run into trouble while risking the dangerous journey.
“These tragedies have exposed the need for sea rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea,” said Stefano Di Carlo, MSF Head of Mission in Italy. “As a result of the restrictive migrant and border control policies of the EU, people are left with no other option but to reach Europe by crossing the sea. That’s why these accidents happen. We know sea rescue operations are not the solution to the problem, but because refugees have no other choices to reach Europe safely, they are absolutely required.”
MSF believes that migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, who are already fleeing conflict and war in their own countries, should not have to risk their lives for a second time by attempting a dangerous sea crossing without the protection of a dedicated search and rescue operation for the Mediterranean.