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High Commissioner’s Dialogue on Protection Challenges, 2014

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Protection at Sea

The seventh High Commissioner's Dialogue on Protection Challenges will take place on 10-11 December 2014 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva on the theme of 'Protection at Sea'.

Too many people are losing their lives when they embark on perilous sea journeys in desperate bids to escape from persecution, conflict, instability and poverty. Many of those who feel compelled to take to the sea, despite the risks involved, are persons of UNHCR's concern - refugees, asylum-seekers, stateless people and others.

The Dialogue will inform the implementation of a two-year Global Initiative on Protection at Sea, which aims to support State action to limit loss of life at sea as well as exploitation, abuse and violence. The Global Initiative also seeks to ensure that responses to irregular 'mixed migration' by sea are sensitive to the international protection needs of specific individuals and groups.

The Dialogue will bring together State, NGO, and IGO participants, as well as academics and individual experts. In a mix of plenary and breakout discussions, it will foster a focused exchange of views on issues such as rescue and disembarkation, addressing the drivers of irregular movements by sea, as well as international cooperation to share burdens and responsibilities, particularly at regional level. The Dialogue will therefore have a strong operational focus.

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Italy: Desperate Rescue at SeaPlay video

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 Play video

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.