In the wake of the recent sinking of a migrant boat off the Libyan coast which took the toll of dozens of lives, the European Union (EU) called on the Libyan authorities to intensify their efforts to prevent more tragedies in the future, as Prime Minister Abdullah Al Thinni committed himself to do on Sunday, May 11.
The tragedy comes as growing number of desperate migrants from Africa, predominantly from Libya, but also from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Gambia, Mali and Senegal, venture into the rough seas in an attempt of reaching European coasts in search for a better life.
These aspirations are often shattered on the very journey, often made on rickety boats that give way to the sea. In addition, Coast Guard units patrolling the seas often detect these vessels and take over their overcrowded passengers, who are subsequently repatriated.
The number of deaths has surpassed 100 people, who are believed to have drowned in the Mediterranean in the past two weeks alone.
“The EU will continue to support the Libyan authorities in areas related to migration, including where appropriate through its mission on Integrated Border Management (EU BAM Libya). The nationalities of those who have died illustrate once again the need to tackle migration in a comprehensive manner, involving countries of origin, transit and destination, with full respect for human rights and human dignity.
EU and African Heads of State who met at the EU – Africa summit in April this year stressed the importance of addressing the root causes of
irregular migration between Africa and Europe,” the European External Action Service said.
The Italian coastguard, through the Mare Nostrum initiative, has already saved thousands of lives of those in peril on the seas surrounding the EU’s external borders, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) said in a a release.
However, such short-term actions are insufficient to address fundamental rights emergencies as FRA pointed out in its report on Fundamental rights at Europe’s southern sea borders.
“Unless structural solutions and actions adopted at EU level are fully implemented, more tragedies are likely to occur. This also means that the EU should review its legislation to combat human smuggling as outlined by FRA in its 2014 paper on Criminalisation of migrants in an irregular situation and of persons engaging with them. This is an important aspect of the European Commission’s ‘Task Force Mediterranean’, which was set up following the deaths of almost 400 people off the Italian island of Lampedusa in October 2013,” FRA added.
World Maritime News Staff, May 14, 2014, Image: INMP