Thursday, August 20, 2020

Dying because they are desperate

In the English Channel a teenager from Sudan was washed ashore drowned after his failed attempt to get to Britain, using a blow-up rubber dinghy and shovels for oars. The UK government has been criticised by campaigners and opposition politicians for its alleged lack of compassion and competence in tackling the issue, ignoring calls from humanitarian experts to bolster safe and legal routes to the UK for those seeking asylum. Instead, ministers have sought to bring in the military to make the route “unviable”

Pierre-Henri Dumont, a local councillor and also an MP for the Calais region asked, "How many more tragedies must there be for the British to find an ounce of humanity. The impossibility of lodging an asylum request in Great Britain without being physically there is leading to these tragedies. British negligence does not exonerate the French government from its own responsibility.”

Clare Moseley, of Care4Calais, condemned the failure of the government to provide safe and legal routes for refugees to reach the UK from northern France.
“Things need to change. We need a way for people’s asylum claims to be fairly heard without them having to risk their lives,” she said.
Laura Padoan, spokesperson for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, said: “We’ve been warning that the priority needs to be saving lives – this shouldn’t have happened. There needs to be international cooperation on providing safe legal routes to ensure than more people don’t drown trying to seek sanctuary in the UK.”

Beth Gardiner-Smith, chief executive of Safe Passage, pointed out, “This morning’s tragic news is the direct consequence of a lack of safe alternatives for those seeking sanctuary. The French and UK governments have been quick to blame people smugglers but fail to recognise that the best way to destroy their business model is to provide safe and legal routes for refugees and a clear pathway to asylum. Ministers in the UK and France need to get a grip and make it their personal priority to prevent any more needless loss of life.”

In the Mediterranean 45 migrants and refugees, including five children, were drowned off the coast of Libya. 37 survivors were rescued by local fishermen.

The survivors of Wednesday's shipwreck, who were mainly from Senegal, Mali, Chad and Ghana, were detained after they disembarked in Libya. Migrants are treated appallingly in Libya, especially if they fall into the hands of militiamen and traffickers, who abuse them and try to extort money from them.

With Libyan state vessels taking responsibility for rescues in the absence of a European Union program, more than 7,000 people have been returned to Libya this year, the statement said.
The IOM and UNHCR say Libya should not be classified as a safe port for migrants and that they should not have to disembark there, wanting an alternative scheme to be created to take people rescued or intercepted at sea to safe ports.
More than 300 people are known to have died trying to cross the sea from Libya to Europe this year, with the actual figure believed to be much higher.
Both the UNHCR and International Organization for Migration (IOM) have called for search and rescue efforts for migrants to be stepped up. They said that without a dedicated search and rescue operation mechanism, more lives would be lost in the Mediterranean.

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