Malta: Spanish trawler waits offshore, UNHCR calls for EU burden-sharing
Briefing Notes, 18 July 2006
This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at the press briefing, on 18 July 2006, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
The Spanish fishing trawler "Francisco Catalina", which rescued 51 people (42 men, 8 women and a baby, most of them apparently from Eritrea) in the Mediterranean on Friday (14 July), has been standing off the Maltese coast since Saturday and still has not been authorized to dock in Malta.
UNHCR has been in contact with the Maltese authorities to express humanitarian concern for the group, some of whom may be refugees in need of international protection, and to underline the urgent need to disembark them as soon as possible in a place where they can receive assistance.
UNHCR fully understands the difficulties and concerns of the Maltese authorities and the considerable challenges posed by the repeated arrivals of mixed groups of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in various Mediterranean countries. However, given the urgency of the situation and for practical considerations, UNHCR is appealing to governments in the region to allow the disembarkation and admission of the 51 people to their territory, at least on a temporary basis.
UNHCR is also calling on EU member states to work with and support Malta to find an appropriate solution to this kind of situation in a spirit of solidarity and burden-sharing.
UNHCR praises the captain and crew of the "Francisco Catalina" for their humanitarian act and requests all the relevant authorities to do everything in their power to ensure that the trawler can continue its journey as scheduled as soon as possible and with minimum further disruption.
The link between movements of refugees and broader migration attracts growing attention.
Migrants are different from refugees but the two sometimes travel alongside each other.
EU solidarity for rescue-at-sea and protection of Asylum Seekers and Migrants.
All in the same boat: The challenges of mixed migration around the world.
Implementation of the 10-Point Plan in Different Regions
Regional Stakeholder Conferences
- Regional Conference on Refugee Protection and International Migration in Central Asia
(Almaty, Kazakhstan, 15-16 March 2011)
- Regional Conference on Mixed Movements and Irregular Migration from the East and Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes Region to Southern Africa
(Dar es Salaam, United Republic of Tanzania, 6-7 September 2010)
- Regional Conference on Refugee Protection and International Migration in the Americas: Protection Considerations in the Context of Mixed Migration
(San José, Costa Rica, 19-20 November 2009)
- Regional Conference on "Refugee Protection and International Migration in the Gulf of Aden"
(Sana'a, Yemen, 19-20 May 2008)
- Regional Conference on Refugee Protection and International Migration in West Africa
(Dakar, Senegal, 13-14 November 2008)
Stocking of the 10-Point Plan Project
Rescue at Sea on the Mediterranean
Every year tens of thousands of people risk their lives by crossing the Mediterranean on overcrowded and often unseaworthy boats in a bid to reach Europe. Many of them are fleeing violence and persecution and are in need of international protection. Thousands die every year trying to make it to places like Malta or Italy's tiny Lampedusa Island. It took the loss of some 600 people in boat sinkings last October to focus world attention on this humanitarian tragedy. Italy has since launched a rescue-at-sea operation using naval vessels, which have saved more than 10,000 people. Photographer Alfredo D'Amato, working with UNHCR, was on board the San Giusto, flagship of the Italian rescue flotilla, when rescued people were transferred to safety. His striking images follow.
Rescue at Sea on the Mediterranean
Rescue at Sea
Summer, with its fair weather and calmer seas, often brings an increase in the number of people risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean and seek asylum in Europe. But this year the numbers have grown by a staggering amount. In the month of June, the Mare Nostrum search and rescue operation picked up desperate passengers at a rate of more than 750 per day.
In late June, UNHCR photographer Alfredo D'Amato boarded the San Giorgio, an Italian naval ship taking part in the operation, to document the rescue process - including the first sighting of boats from a military helicopter, the passengers' transfer to small rescue boats and then the mother ship, and finally their return to dry land in Puglia, Italy.
In the span of just six hours on 28 June, the crew rescued 1,171 people from four overcrowded boats. Over half were from war-torn Syrian, mostly families and large groups. Others came from Eritrea and Sudan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Somalia, Bangladesh and beyond. D'Amato's images and the interviews that accompanied them are windows into the lives of people whose situation at home had become so precarious that they were willing to risk it all.
Rescue at Sea
2007 Nansen Refugee Award
The UN refugee agency's Nansen Awards Committee has named Dr. Katrine Camilleri, a 37-year-old lawyer with the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in Malta, as the winner of the 2007 Nansen Refugee Award. The Committee was impressed by the political and civic courage she has shown in dealing with the refugee situation in Malta.
Dr. Camilleri first became aware of the plight of refugees as a 16-year-old girl when a priest visited her school to talk about his work. After graduating from the University of Malta in 1994, she began working in a small law firm where she came into contact with refugees. As Dr. Camilleri's interest grew in this humanitarian field, she started to work with the JRS office in Malta in 1997.
Over the last year, JRS and Dr. Camilleri have faced a series of attacks. Nine vehicles belonging to the Jesuits were burned in two separate attacks. And this April, arsonists set fire to both Dr. Camilleri's car and her front door, terrifying her family. The perpetrators were never caught but the attacks shocked Maltese society and drew condemnation from the Government of Malta. Dr. Camilleri continues to lead the JRS Malta legal team as Assistant Director.
2007 Nansen Refugee Award
Italy: Desperate Rescue at Sea
Tens of thousands are fleeing from the North African coast, seeking safety in Europe via a dangerous Mediterranean Sea crossings. Many are Syrian refugees, many others come from Sub-Saharan Africa - all risk their lives.
Italy: Haunted by a Sinking Ship
"Every time I try to sleep I see what I saw in the water, what happened to me, the dead children"
Thamer & Thayer, brothers from Syria, escaped war, then unrest in Libya only to be faced with death on the Mediterranean
The Lampedusa boat tragedies sparked a debate on asylum policies in Europe, leading Italian authorities to launch a search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean Sea. Called Mare Nostrum, the operation has rescued more than 63,000 people.
Sweden: Mahmoud's Escape
Mahmoud was one of more than 300,000 Syrian refugees who have sought safety in Egypt since the conflict in his homeland began three years ago. The nine-year-old was so desperate to attend school that he risked his life to get to Europe. He was stopped and sent back to Egypt but is now making a fresh start in Sweden.