UNHCR's Grandi calls on EU to put safety and solidarity at the heart of the response in the Mediterranean
GENEVA - Tomorrow’s meeting of European Union interior ministers at an extraordinary session of the Justice and Home Affairs Council is a chance for the EU to put safety and solidarity at the heart of its action in the Mediterranean and along all other migratory routes.
With almost 2,000 people having already died or gone missing so far this year alone, urgent action is needed. While states point fingers and trade blame, lives are lost. What is needed is more state-led and better coordinated search and rescue efforts, predictable disembarkations in places of safety, and expedited access to screening and asylum procedures to identify those who may need international protection, and return – in safety and with dignity – those who do not.
In this spirit, I welcome the proposed EU Action Plan for the Central Mediterranean—which will serve as a basis for tomorrow’s extraordinary session of the Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting. It ensures solidarity among states and a commitment to uphold longstanding legal and moral obligations for rescue at sea and safe and predictable disembarkation.
The urgency to address the desperate situation in the Mediterranean does not replace the need for wider reforms for a better managed and fair common asylum system as proposed in the EU Pact on Migration and Asylum. But people cannot afford to wait.
With so many lives at stake, UNHCR appreciates the vital importance of rescue at sea by all actors, including NGO rescue vessels. UNHCR will continue to support states in finding and implementing immediate and humane solutions in line with international law to prevent further needless deaths at sea.
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