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Cooperate to save migrants' lives, urges UN Committee

GENEVA (21 April 2015) – The latest, and worst, loss of life in the Mediterranean Sea demands concerted action by all to save migrants' lives, the UN Committee on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families today urged.

“We once again express our shock and dismay at the appalling loss of life in the seas between Europe and Africa,” Committee Chair Francisco Carrion Mena said following the reported deaths of several hundred migrants off the coast of Libya on Sunday, which was followed by rescues on Monday by Italy, Malta and Greece involving 300 additional migrants with several deaths reported in Greece. In the past week alone, reportedly more than 1,000 migrants have perished in the Mediterranean.

“While it is true that there is no magic solution to immediately solve this issue, three things are crystal clear to the Committee,” he said.

“The first is that the rights to life and health of these people, be they migrants or asylum seekers, must be protected by those with responsibility for these seas. Search and rescue capabilities must be adequate to save people in distress,” he said.

“Second, the undeniable flow of migrants towards real employment opportunities in Europe must be managed in a more ordered and human rights-based fashion, reducing the attraction of smugglers and their promises which often turn into violence, exploitation and death.”

“Finally, the drivers of poverty and conflict which push people to take the extreme action of crossing the seas in search of work, peace and decent living conditions are not going to disappear without concerted action by States,” said Carrion Mena.

Each of these three actions, the Committee notes, requires the concerted action of governments in sending, transiting, and receiving countries. The international community must do more to ensure that these tragedies are not repeated, the Committee stressed. This is a complex and multi-faceted phenomenon dealing with overlapping issues relating to international protection, human rights of migrants, smuggling and trafficking, as well as other push and pull factors affecting irregular migration. It is time for a comprehensive approach placing the human rights of migrants at the forefront by the international community. Unless durable rights-based solutions are found, more lives will be lost.

The Committee took note of the 10-point package discussed yesterday by the European Union and welcomed the meeting that will take place on 23 April. In this context, the Committee called upon the European Union to seek short-term, as well as long-term, durable solutions that mainstream the human rights of migrants and members of their families.

The Committee expressed its condolences to the families of those whose lives have been lost.


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