7 December 2014
UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants: Mediterranean migrant crisis calls for new and concerted strategic approach by European states and the international community
The rise of migrants and asylum seekers crossing the Mediterranean Sea in the last few months has resulted in a global crisis that calls for a global humanitarian response. François Crépeau, UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, said: “This requires a new and concerted strategic approach by European states and the international community”.
Mr. Crépeau, who praised Italy’s extraordinary efforts through its Mare Nostrum operation, urged the EU and the wider international community “to consider immediate options, such as supporting Italy in a robust search and rescue operations and, together with other global North states, providing a significant resettlement program for refugees.”
The operation, established by the Italian Government in 2013, aims to tackle the dramatic increase of migratory flows during the second half of the year and consequent tragic ship wreckages off the island of Lampedusa. “In 2014, Italy has saved the lives of over 150,000 people who attempted to cross the Mediterranean Sea, the lives of children, men and women – sometimes pregnant. Without such an extraordinary effort, these people would be dead,” he noted. Italy’s Mare Nostrum operation is coming to an end because of lack of funds and support from other countries in Europe. It will be replaced by EU Frontex operation Triton, which will be limited to defending Italy’s maritime border. “The fear is that, next summer, without an operation like Mare Nostrum, thousands of people will die. Turning a blind eye isn’t a solution: people will continue to cross and, because of Europe’s inaction, to die,” he warned. “Europe should actively support search and rescue operations, offer facilitated family reunification within Europe and share the number of asylum claims among all European states,” he stated.