UNHCR concerned over ending of rescue operation in the Mediterranean
This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
UNHCR is concerned over the announcement of the ending this month of the Italian operation Mare Nostrum without a similar European search and rescue operation to replace it. This will undoubtedly increase the risk for those trying to find safety in Europe, and could lead to more refugees and migrants perishing at sea. It is estimated that 3343 people have lost their lives this year while making such journeys, 2755 of them since the start of July.
UNHCR has welcomed Mare Nostrum, which has contributed to the rescue of around 150,000 refuges and migrants since it began a year ago as a response to two tragedies off the coast of Lampedusa, where over 600 refugees and migrants died. Today, UNHCR reiterates its call for Europe to commit more resources to rescue at sea in the Mediterranean.
It is critical that the long-established tradition of rescue at sea is upheld by all. UNHCR also recognizes the efforts made by many commercial vessels - this year alone they have contributed to the rescue of about 37,000 people. To the extent possible, such rescue must ensure minimal financial impact on the shipping industry. Predictability on places for the disembarkation in safety of those rescued is also required.
In addition, Europe needs to step up efforts to provide credible legal alternatives to dangerous voyages to protect people from the risks of traveling with smugglers. The collective response needs to maintain a strong capacity to rescue people at sea and increase safer ways for refugees to find safety in Europe, including enhanced resettlement, other forms of humanitarian admission and private sponsorship schemes. UNHCR is also calling on European governments to do more to facilitate family reunification and use programmes such as student or employment visas to benefit refugees.
The level of desperation among many of those involved, fleeing war, persecution and violence, including from Syria require our concerted efforts to respond. This trend began in June and July last year, before Mare Nostrum was established, and has continued in 2014. In addition, an increased number of women, children, including many unaccompanied, and elderly people are taking to dangerous sea routes. They face greater risks, are more vulnerable to abuse and have specific needs that require assistance after they are rescued.
These challenges cannot be addressed by a few states alone; a joint European response is needed, based on collaboration among states and EU support. These efforts also need to ensure additional initial reception facilities, adequate reception conditions, assistance in processing as well as identifying solutions for those in need of international protection
For more information on this topic, please contact:
- In Rome, In Rome, Carlotta Sami on mobile +39 335 679 4746
- In Rome, Federico Fossi on mobile +31 349 0843461
- In Geneva, William Spindler on mobile +41 79 217 3011
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UNHCR concerned over ending of rescue operation in the Mediterranean17 Oct 2014 ... UNHCR is concerned over the announcement of the ending this month of the Italian operation Mare Nostrum without a similar European search and rescue operation to replace it. This will undoubtedly ......
UNHCR calls for more robust search-and-rescue operation on Mediterranean12 Feb 2015 ... "There can be no doubt left after this week's events that Europe's Operation Triton is a woefully inadequate replacement for Italy's Mare Nostrum," said UN High Commissioner for Refugees António ......
UNHCR urges Europe to recreate a robust search and rescue operation on Mediterranean, as Operation Triton lacks resources and mandate needed for saving lives12 Feb 2015 ... "There can be no doubt left after this week's events that Europe's Operation Triton is a woefully inadequate replacement for Italy's Mare Nostrum," said UN High Commissioner for Refugees António ......
So Close yet so Far from Safety (1)1 Oct 2014 ... has received over 140,000 arrivals in 2014, at the astonishing pace of 15,650 arrivals per month or 516 arrivals each day, most of them rescued at sea by Italy under its Navy operation Mare Nostrum. ......
Italy: Haunted by a Sinking Ship24 Jul 2014 ... 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 ......
Update on UNHCR's operations in Europe17 Sep 2014 ... In one incident alone, in early October 2013, more than 360 persons lost their lives off the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa. In response, Italy launched the Mare Nostrum operation to ......
UNHCR shock at latest deaths on Mediterranean, rescue capacity needed more urgently than ever15 Apr 2015 ... This only demonstrates how important it is to have a robust rescue-at-sea mechanism in the central Mediterranean," said UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres. "Unfortunately Mare Nostrum ......
High Commissioner for Refugees Guterres and Special Envoy Jolie warn of escalating crisis in the Mediterranean15 Sep 2014 ... Jolie thanked the naval authorities for their part in successful rescue operations that have saved many lives. Amidst concerns about the sustainability of the Italian Mare Nostrum operation, they also ......
Invitation to "Boat people testimonials and reflection" in the evening of 9 December2 Dec 2014 ... Boat people testimonials and reflection and film footage of rescue at sea (Operation Mare Nostrum) ...as decision makers gather in Geneva on Protection at Sea ...too many people are suffering ......