Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties is shocked by the sinking of 40 migrants on the coast of Libya in the latest boat disaster in the Mediterranean.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) confirmed in a statement on Tuesday that at least 40 people were drowned out of dozens of irregular migrants on a shipwrecked off the coast of the town of Al-Khums, 120 kilometres east of the capital Tripoli. Sixty people were rescued in an operation that has been going on since Tuesday morning by the Libyan Coast Guard and local fishermen.
The latest incident comes just weeks after a boat that drowned an estimated 150 people dead in the worst accident in the Mediterranean this year. Following this tragedy, it is estimated that around 900 people lost their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean in 2019.
GCRL affirms that the continued international failure in the refugee file and the lack of political will cost more lives. The Council reaffirms the responsibility of the European Union countries towards the tragic drowning incident, especially hindered by rescue operations by NGOs. The continued sinking of migrants off the coast is seen as a clear disregard for human, moral and legal values, and a natural consequence of an unannounced EU decision to leave migrants alone to meet their unknown fate.
The Council notes that this European policy does not take into account the particular humanitarian situation of these migrants in the absence of the most basic equipment for the rescue teams on the Libyan side. It warns that European policies have empowered the Libyan Coast Guard to intercept people at sea, reduced the priority of rescue operations, and hampered the vital work of rescue organizations.
GCRL affirms the need for serious international action to prevent the recurrence of migrants’ drowning tragedies and end their extradition as inevitable and calls for effective action to prevent loss of life at sea among migrants and to avoid despair that motivates these people to risk their lives.
The Council stresses that this requires intensified efforts to reduce the loss of life at sea, including the return of European Union search and rescue ships. The Council also called on coastal States to facilitate voluntary efforts aimed at reducing deaths at sea. It also calls for increased evacuation and resettlement places by countries to move migrants of Libya and to end the arbitrary detention of people rescued at sea.
Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties also emphasizes that security concerns do not justify leaving thousands of migrants vulnerable to drowning in the Mediterranean repetitively, highlighting the need for a new policy that takes into account the human dimension in dealing with their cause.