28 April 2015

Ban Ki-moon urges collective action to ease plight of migrants crossing Mediterranean

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the global community to unite and take action to address the root causes of the migrant crisis.

According to the UN, some 219,000 refugees and migrants crossed the Mediterranean in 2014, and at least 3,500 lives were lost. So far this year, more than 30,000 people are known to have made crossings to Italy and Greece – the first and second largest countries of arrival respectively. And numbers have recently been picking up further as sea and weather conditions improve.

The Secretary-General visited Italy to get a first-hand look at Italian naval operations to protect people on the high seas. He said this briefing was an ‘invaluable experience’, and said to raise his ‘voice for collective responsibility and sharing of responsibility and burden in the name of humanity’.

He continued saying: ‘I know it is a huge challenge for the Italian Government and, in a broader sense, European governments. Not a single country – like Italy – can bear all this responsibility.’ He emphasised the need for a more united front to focus on saving lives of those who are at sea. Critical to that is finding a political solution, on the ground, particularly in Libya and all the political instability in northern Africa. The European Union, a group of countries that has ‘maximum capacity and willingness’, must continue its leadership on this issue, he said, pledging support from the United Nations.

Earlier, Adrian Edwards, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, while applauding the EU’s tripling of funding for joint sea rescue operations following the recent maritime tragedy that claimed the lives of hundreds of migrants, said: ‘Ultimately, the test will be whether we see a reduction in lives lost, effective access to protection in Europe without having to cross the Mediterranean, and an effective Common European Asylum System, which truly lives up to its commitments of solidarity and responsibility sharing.’

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Source: UN News Centre | Aboard Italian navy ship, Ban urges collective action to ease plight of migrants crossing Mediterranean
Source: UNSG | Statement | Secretary-General’s remarks on board the Italian naval ship the San Giusto | Sicily, Italy, 27 April 2015
Source: UN News Centre | Mediterranean crisis: UN welcomes EU measures on migrants, urges more comprehensive action

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