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UN officials: deadly shipwreck in Italy must trigger action to save lives

NEW YORK/ROME/GENEVA, FEBRUARY 27 – The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres  and agencies serving refugees and migrants around the world urgently called for safer travel routes and bolstered rescue operations following a deadly shipwreck that left over 60 dead on Sunday off the coast of Crotone, Italy.

“Every person searching for a better life deserves safety and dignity,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, stressing the need for “safe and legal routes for migrants and refugees.” Guterres, who is in Geneva for the new Session of the Human Rights Council, blamed “criminal bands controlling migration routes” for yet another “horrific shipwreck” which “has claimed the lives of dozens of people, including children – this time off the coast of Italy”.
In New York, his Spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric, elaborated: “If you look at the 2016 Global Compact on Migration for one, it lays out plans on how to manage migration. It is clear that a number of countries in the so-called global North need manpower, right? And the Secretary-General will often talk about his own country, about Portugal. But the point is we’re leaving the management of migratory routes to smugglers. To criminal gangs. Instead of having governments in the countries of origin, countries of transit, countries of destination actually come to agreements. Because there are programmes where people can get visas and they can go to work. There are all these issues that need to be dealt with. But they should be dealt with so that people’s dignity are respected. I read over the weekend an article in the New York Times about child labour in the United States, about 13, 14, 15-year-old migrants. This is what happens when things are left in the hands of criminals instead of countries actually sitting together and managing migratory routes, so people don’t die the Mediterranean”.  
The UN refugee agency (UNCHR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in a joint statement, expressed condolences for the victims and called on countries to increase resources and capabilities to effectively meet their responsibilities. The agencies said European Union mechanisms for rescue operations are “urgently needed”. Laurence Hart, director of the IOM Coordination Office for the Mediterranean, said this shipwreck demonstrates how the phenomenon of migration by sea must be tackled by all European nations. This requires humanitarian support and adopting an approach that considers the multiple drivers that are causing people to flee, she said.
As of today over 60 lifeless bodies had been recovered, but ongoing search and rescue teams fear the death toll could be worse, the agencies said. News reports said a newborn and small children were among the dead. Reports indicate that at least 180 people were on board the small vessel, including children and families. The UN refugee agency said that information received shows that there may be as many as 80 survivors. Some of them have been hospitalized for treatment. “It is unacceptable to witness such horrors, with families and children entrusted to unseaworthy boats,” said Chiara Cardoletti, the UNHCR representative for Italy, the Holy See and San Marino. “This tragedy must prompt us to act and act now.” To avoid tragedies like this, Ms. Cardoletti said, it is “more necessary than ever before to strengthen the rescue capacity, which is still insufficient”.
The boat had left Turkey, with many passengers coming from Afghanistan and Pakistan. In 2022, people from Turkey accounted for around 15 per cent of total arrivals by sea in Italy, UNHCR said, noting that nearly half of the people arriving along this route were people fleeing Afghanistan. The IOM Missing Migrants Project reported that at least 220 people, including those who perished on Sunday, have died or gone missing along the central Mediterranean route in 2023. (@OnuItalia)

 

 

OnuItalia
OnuItaliahttps://onuitalia.com
Il giornale Italiano delle Nazioni Unite. Ha due redazioni, una a New York, l’altra a Roma.

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