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UNHCR seeks support for alternatives to dangerous refugee journeys

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UNHCR seeks support for alternatives to dangerous refugee journeys

18 July 2017 Also available in:
Malta. West African refugees and migrants rescued at sea
A young man is wrapped in a foil blanket to prevent hypothermia, after being rescued from an inflatable rubber dinghy off the coast of Malta, in November 2016.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is appealing for US$421.2 million to help provide meaningful alternatives to refugees and others undertaking dangerous journeys to Europe.

The number of refugees and migrants arriving in Europe from Africa through Libya is increasing and, with it, the risks they face crossing the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea. In the first six months of this year, 2,171 refugees and migrants died or went missing in the Central Mediterranean, many others are believed to have died trying to cross into Libya.

“The movement of refugees and migrants across the Sahara and the Mediterranean is taking a devastating toll on human life,” said Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR’s Special Envoy to the Central Mediterranean Situation. “We need to provide meaningful and viable alternatives to these movements or the deaths and the suffering will continue to mount. We want to scale-up existing activities or implement new ones to provide effective ways and means to protect refugees and asylum-seekers along the various routes leading to Libya, and support the engagement of all stakeholders in these efforts.”

To deal with complex population movements involving shifting routes, UNHCR is proposing a comprehensive strategy with interventions at three different points: in the countries of origin and transit in sub-Saharan Africa, in North Africa, and in the destination countries in Europe.

In sub-Saharan African countries, UNHCR aims to secure access to asylum, provide adequate reception services, strengthen protection space and deliver effective protection services and solutions for those in need of international protection. This will include capacity-building activities, raising awareness of the risks of travel towards Libya, improving communication with members of communities likely to undertake such journeys, as well as supporting law enforcement mechanisms for addressing human trafficking.

In North Africa, UNHCR will work to improve access to asylum, raise awareness about the dangers of irregular migration and work towards enhancing the overall protection space, including through alternatives to detention for refugees and asylum seekers. UNHCR will provide targeted training support to coast guard services, ensure humane treatment and provision of humanitarian assistance to those rescued or intercepted at sea, and facilitate early identification, including at disembarkation points, of those with protection needs, including the most vulnerable people, for timely provision of services and solutions.

In Europe, UNHCR will continue supporting, complementing and building existing government capacities to ensure effective and safe access to asylum, protection services and solutions for people of concern, with particular attention to those with specific needs and vulnerabilities.

UNHCR’s supplementary appeal presents requirements amounting to US$421.2 million, including US$22.6 additional requirements for countries in West Africa and for Morocco. It builds upon and incorporates earlier appeals such as the 2017 Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan for Europe (RMRP), and requirements related to refugees in Libya worth US$62.4 million, presented in the May 2017 appeal for Libya. It also complements activities implemented by other organizations such as IOM for migrants using the same route.

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