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Urgent action needed to end refugee deaths in the Mediterranean - Anderson

26 September, 2018 - by Martina Anderson MEP

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said urgent action is needed from the EU and international community to stop the growing number of deaths of refugees in the Mediterranean. 

Martina Anderson said: 

"The latest report from the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, has shown that one in every 18 refugees who attempt to cross the Mediterranean fleeing conflict and persecution dies. That has risen from one in every 42 in 2017. 

"The EU may claim there is a reduction in the number of arrivals in Europe because of increased rescues but in actual fact many of those who are 'rescued' are returned to detention camps in the very conflict zones they were attempting to flee from. 

"This is against the principle of international law which forbids states returning asylum seekers to countries where they would be likely to face persecution.

"This is the inevitable consequence of the EU’s insistence that migration and security must be dealt with together. 

"The outworking of this policy, Operation Sophia, has resulted in activists and boats of independent search and rescue organisations and NGOs operating in the Mediterranean being forcibly detained. 

"This week, the last private vessel 'The Aquarius' had its registration revoked. The EU-backed Libyan Coastguard still carries out search and rescue, but migrants are then held in detention centres, which human rights organisations such as Médecins Sans Frontières and the UN have criticised as having people packed like sardines in squalid conditions.

"The silence from the international community on this shameful stain on Europe has been deafening. We need to see action from the international community to ensure that humanitarian concerns are at the heart of policies dealing with refugees in the Mediterranean." 

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