PRESS RELEASE: Lampedusa: Another Tragedy, Europe Must Act
11 February 2015

Despite ever more deaths at sea, European leaders are yet to create safe ways for refugees to seek protection in Europe. This photo shows migrants who were saved by the Italian coast guard in June 2011. (Photo: UNHCR / F. Noy)
Where has our solidarity gone? These are European borders and all member states should help face the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean with all possible means.
PRESS RELEASE: Rome, Brussels, 11 February 2015 – About 300 people have drowned as their rubber dinghies sank in the Mediterranean between Libya and Lampedusa, Italy. This latest tragedy is a twofold demonstration of the failure of European border policy. Not only have European states not taken the necessary measures to save lives in the Mediterranean, they have established a series of 'legal' obstacles for those fleeing intensifying conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa.

The Italian coast guard managed to rescue about 100 migrants from one dinghy, in stormy seas, on Monday night. However, 29 died of hypothermia as they sat on the open decks of the small coast guard boats. These deaths may have been avoided, if the EU had implemented a search and rescue operation of the same size and scope as the former Italian rescue programme Mare Nostrum. Previously, rescued migrants were given shelter below decks of larger naval vessels.

EU border Operation Triton is currently vastly under-equipped and focuses almost exclusively on border security and surveillance of European coastlines.

In response to the latest tragedy, JRS Italy director Fr Camillo Ripamonti stated, "Once again, we are stunned with horror. We will not and cannot accept that the Mediterranean continues to be a migrant graveyard. It crucial that the EU and its member states swiftly act to ensure the safety of refugees."

"Where has our solidarity gone?" asks JRS Europe director Fr Jean-Marie Carrière.

"These are European borders and all member states should help face the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean with all possible means. Italy demonstrated that it is possible to save lives. Imagine what could be achieved if all 28 EU member states really worked together for refugees. We must open safe and legal channels for protection seekers as well as boost search and rescue capacity."

"The enormity of the current refugee crisis calls for a range of measures that can have real and immediate impact."

Our recent policy paper 'Recommendations for the development of safe and legal paths to protection in the EU' details four main areas for decision makers in the EU as well as in member states to work on:

•    Resettlement and humanitarian admission
•    Family reunification
•    Humanitarian visas
•    Temporary lifting of visa requirements

Press Contact Information
Oscar Spooner
+32 2 250 3225