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UNHCR clarification on Guardian article

Press Releases, 3 June 2014

In an article entitled 'Europe faces 'colossal humanitarian catastrophe' of refugees dying at sea' published on 2 June by The Guardian, UNHCR is paraphrased as saying the UN is considering Africa holding centres for asylum-seekers trying to reach Europe using irregular sea crossings. UNHCR wishes to make the following points by way of clarification:

UNHCR is not considering "holding centres" as an alternative to address the challenges of refugees and migrants risking their lives at sea.

UNHCR strongly believes that every life counts and we are working in close cooperation with other relevant stakeholders to prevent the alarming loss of life at sea and indifference to people desperately needing protection, including finding alternatives to dangerous journeys, such as resettlement, humanitarian admission and family reunification programmes.

UNHCR is calling for urgent, concerted action by coastal and non-coastal states to improve search and rescue at sea, ease disembarkation, ensure protection for refugees, asylum-seekers and the stateless, and halt harmful measures such as pushbacks and detention.

Asylum seekers should have their claims for asylum processed in a secure environment with adequate procedural safeguards in line with international refugee and human rights law.

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