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International Rescue Committee (IRC): As Mediterranean death toll mounts, Europe must urgently expand safe pathways for people on the move



 International Rescue Committee IRC As Mediterranean death toll mounts Europe must urgently expand safe pathways for people on the move
International Rescue Committee (IRC): As Mediterranean death toll mounts, Europe must urgently expand safe pathways for people on the move

1 The International Rescue Committee calls for urgent action by the EU and its member states as the number of refugees and other migrants who risk making the treacherous journey from North Africa to Europe continues to rise.


2 According to UNHCR, more than 35,000 people have arrived in Italy by sea so far this year, with 192 arrivals reported as recently as a few nights ago.


3 This marks an increase from the 27,200 received during the same period in 2021.


4 Tragically, at least 875 people have lost their lives along the Central Mediterranean Route so far in 2022.

5 As the number of people forced to making these dangerous journeys continues to increase, the IRC urges the EU and its member states to urgently expand safe and regular pathways of protection in Europe, and ensure they are supported throughout their journeys.

6 Susanna Zanfrini, IRC Italy Bureau Chief, says: “No one should be forced to risk their life on a dilapidated or unseaworthy boat in search of safety and security.

7 Yet again this summer, we are seeing an increase in the number of people attempting to cross one of the world’s deadliest migration routes.

8 Many of these people have been driven from their homes by growing food insecurity, unemployment and the impact of climate change, with some fleeing violence, conflict or persecution in countries such as Afghanistan, Sudan or Somalia.

9 “Those arriving in Lampedusa are crammed into a reception center that is currently more than four times full: almost 1,900 housed in a space meant for just 350.

10 This desperate situation could and should have been avoided.

11 Arrivals to islands like Lampedusa tend to peak during the summer months due to better weather conditions.

12 Instead of shirking their responsibilities and demonizing people seeking protection, Italy and other EU states must cooperate to expand regular and safe paths for those forced to make the desperate journey across the sea, and welcome newcomers with humanity, dignity and spirit.

13 of solidarity.” Tom Garofalo, IRC Country Director for Libya, says: “People are desperate to leave Libya because of the conditions they live in.

14 Every day they know that they can be kidnapped, arbitrarily detained and subjected to violence and abuse.

15 Risking life at sea is the last resort.

16 Tragically, however, this route through the Central Mediterranean Sea is fraught with danger and has already claimed the lives of more than 870 people this year.

17 “In 2022, more than 9,800 refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants were intercepted by Libyan authorities, including the Coast Guard, and returned to Libyan shores.

18 IRC teams at disembarkation points in Libya regularly treat the horrific injuries suffered by those sent back to the country: dehydration, exhaustion, burns from fuel leaks, and other physical and mental scars from their traumatic journeys.Yet instead of receiving the lasting support they need, most are sent to detention where conditions are often deplorable.

19 As we head into the peak summer months, we know that more and more desperate people will attempt the perilous journey from Libya to safety in Europe.

20 It is absolutely critical that the EU relaunch its own dedicated search and rescue mission in the Mediterranean as soon as possible to prevent further suffering and loss of life.”

21 Imogen Sudbury, IRC Executive Director for Policy and Advocacy, Europe, says: “As the number of displaced people worldwide has ballooned to over 100 million for the first time, it is imperative that EU leaders take urgent and principled action to prevent further suffering on Europe’s borders.

22 If they don’t, the Mediterranean will not simply become a graveyard for more people seeking protection, but for its own values ​​of human rights, dignity and equality.”

23 As the death toll rises in the central Mediterranean, IRC calls on the EU and its member states to: Expand safe and regular pathways of protection and mobility from Africa to Europe so that people are not forced to risk their lives in dangerous places.

24 The first step will be to commit to resettling at least 40,000 refugees by 2023, paying particular attention to needs along the Central Mediterranean Route.

25 This must be complemented by the extension of safe and regular routes to Europe through humanitarian corridors, family reunification and work or study visas Urgently establishing an EU-funded search and rescue mission in the Mediterranean Sea, as well as ensuring that any support , including financial, technological or training, to the Libyan authorities, including the Coast Guard, in policies and practices that refer to migration, is conditional on the defense of the human rights of people on the move Strengthen coordination with other actors of maritime rescue, including NGOs – so that all people rescued at sea are taken to a place of safety, which Libya is not, as the UNHCR has repeatedly stated.

26 Prioritize ending arbitrary detention and the release of all people currently held in detention centers in all diplomatic efforts with the Libyan authorities, while urging the latter to ensure alternatives to detention for people on the move, especially women and children who face specific protection.

27 risks Support partner countries along the Central Mediterranean Route in promoting access to services and protection measures, especially for women, children and other people in vulnerable situations, as well as guaranteeing access to information on services basic social, legal and administrative along the route.

28 Reach a political solution for a permanent, legally binding and predictable shared responsibility system based on relocations, so that Europe’s border countries do not take on a disproportionate responsibility for supporting new arrivals.

29 Present in Libya since August 2016, the IRC provides life-saving health and protection services, supports broader health system strengthening efforts, and builds the capacity of Libyan youth in peacebuilding and governance initiatives.

30 So far in 2022, the IRC has carried out 49 emergency responses, supporting more than 3,800 people, including 190 women and 228 children.

31 In Italy, the IRC works to protect refugees and asylum seekers, focusing on women, unaccompanied children and those requiring psychosocial support.

32 The IRC works with partners to improve its ability to quickly identify trafficking survivors and strengthen their access to legal assistance and support.

33 The online platform provides clear and timely information for refugees and asylum seekers in need of local support services, enabling them to make informed decisions about their lives.

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