Already more than 1,000 people have been reported dead or missing in 2017 while trying to cross the Mediterranean in search for a life in safety and dignity, figures published today by two UN agencies show. Also today, the European Court of Auditors has criticized appalling gaps in the EU’s ‘hotspot’ approach for receiving migrants.
In response, Oxfam International’s Deputy Director for Advocacy and Campaigns, Natalia Alonso, said:
On the death of migrants in the Mediterranean:
“The people who try to reach Europe are often desperate in their search for a life in safety and dignity for themselves and their families. For many, risking their lives in unseaworthy boats is the only option to escape violence, disasters and poverty.
“So far, EU member states have relied on shutting down their borders. But this does not stop people from looking for safety, dignity and a better life. On the contrary, the lack of safe and regular routes to reach Europe pushes many to rely on smugglers and increases the suffering of people.
“EU member states must expand safe and regular alternatives for people in need, so they are not forced to risk their lives in search of safety and dignity.”
On the Court of Auditors report:
“The suffering of migrants does not stop with the dangerous sea crossing. This new report confirms how many people, are forced to live in inadequate conditions, with children’s welfare in many cases put at risk. Oxfam’s own research in Greece and Italy has shown how people in ‘hotspots’ are caught in legal limbo and confusion, with their basic human rights being trampled on.
“EU member states must rethink their approach to managing migration, moving away from detention and harsh conditions to providing fair and transparent asylum procedures, decent accommodation and better access to basic services such as healthcare.”
Notes to editors:
- Per the latest update of the UN refugee agency UNHCR on 25 April, 1,092 people have died or gone missing this year while trying to cross the Mediterranean in search for a life in safety and dignity.
- The ‘Missing Migrants’ project of the International Organization for Migration has recorded 1,089 migrants dead or missing per 25 April.
- Oxfam, together with IRC and NRC, has exposed the sometimes horrific situation of migrants on Greek islands, many of them living in EU ‘hotspots’.
- An Oxfam report on Italy showed last year that EU ‘hotspots’ have been operating without a clear legal framework, shutting people out of the asylum system and leaving them stranded and even more vulnerable.
- Europe is also failing refugee and migrant children arriving through Italy, an Oxfam report exposed in September 2017.
- Read more about Oxfam’s work with refugees and other migrants in Europe and across the globe.