UNHCR joins call to save lives at sea

Malta. disembarkation of Sea Watch and Sea Eye passengers

Disembarkation of persons rescued by Sea Watch and Sea Eye.  © UNHCR/Anna Camilleri

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is joining other UN entities, in issuing a call on states to ensure that people rescued and intercepted at sea are not disembarked to a place of danger.

While international law requires everyone disembarked to be delivered to a place of safety, there is a lack of an agreed definition among states as to what this means in practice

Among several appeals outlined in a newly released note on the concept of the ‘place of safety’ in protection at sea, UNHCR, IOM, OHCHR, UNICEF, UNODC and the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Migrants – urged states to:

  • Commit to ensuring that people rescued at sea are promptly disembarked and delivered to places where the respect of the human rights and the right to seek asylum of those rescued is guaranteed
  • Strengthen international and multilateral cooperation to dismantle organized criminal networks facilitating irregular migration; and
  • Effectively investigate and prosecute abuses committed against smuggled people, including in transit and destination countries.

UNHCR hopes that these measures, combined, will ensure a more timely and predictable disembarkation of refugees and migrants retrieved at sea.

The full text is available here: www.unhcr.org/62824f564