Safe and humane channels needed
31 May 2016
(Brussels) 31 May 2016 – According to the UN refugee agency at least 880 forced migrants have perished in a series of shipwrecks on the central Mediterranean over the last week. JRS unequivocally calls upon national and supranational policymakers to use all the means at their disposal to create safe and humane passages for people in need of protection.
“This is a human tragedy,” said JRS International director Tom Smolich SJ, “to keep letting people drown in the Mediterranean Sea is a scandal and it is immoral.”
The crossing from North Africa to Italy is highly dangerous and often lethal. So far this year, over 2,000 protection seekers have been recorded as dead or missing on this route. The odds of dying on this route are as high as one in 23.
Some 46,714 protection seekers have travelled to Italy so far this year, almost the same as the total recorded there in the first five months of 2015 (47,463). Far from declining, forced migration from North Africa to Europe is holding its intensity and some estimates predict a total number of 200,000 arrivals in Italy by the end of the year. The question is how many will perish on the same voyage, unless safe and legal ways are opened?
“Europe has the means to save and protect people. It’s just a question of willingness to provide pathways for folks to enter Europe without risking their lives.”
“The status quo is not going to do it; destroying boats in Libya is not going to do it. Making passages safe and humane, working with people before they come to Europe, dealing with the phenomenon of refugees in a systemic and fundamentally humane way is the only way to do it,” concludes Smolich.
Europe has the means to save and protect people. It’s just a question of willingness to provide pathways for folks to enter Europe without risking their lives.