Vincent Cochetel, the Director of the Bureau for Europe at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees | Photo: ARCHIVE/EPA/Noemi Bruzak
Vincent Cochetel, the Director of the Bureau for Europe at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees | Photo: ARCHIVE/EPA/Noemi Bruzak

Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR's special envoy for the Central Mediterranean, has reiterated that there is no port known to be safe in Libya. The UN agency has launched an appeal to raise 210 million dollars for migrant assistance.

Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR's special envoy for the Central Mediterranean, has said that the UN agency is not aware of any safe port in Libya. He added that discussions were ongoing for agreements for the disembarking of migrants even in North African countries but that the problem was not one ship: it was that several ships arrived together, as happens in the summer.


He added that countries do not want to rescue migrants because they do not know what to do with the people but that ''the cost of exclusion is higher than that of inclusion''. He was speaking in Brussels at the presentation of a report on migration routes in the Mediterranean in which it was found that assisting and protecting the thousands of migrants that cross the African desert and then the Mediterranean would cost 210 million dollars. 

UNHCR registered 55,770 refugees and asylum seekers in Libya 

In Libya, UNHCR has registered the presence of 55,770 refugees and asylum seekers. At least 4,263 of those were identified to be in a detention center accessible to the UNHCR and its partners as of June 23. In general, a large number of people make recourse to traffickers even for family reunification since the legal procedures are too long and not effective enough. 

On the Sea watch case, Cochetel said that he did not want to discuss the matter but that ''the European Court of Human Rights has very high standards'' to call something at high humanitarian risk. He added that, however, there is the need for a faster process of solidarity between states and that not all the responsibility should be laid on a single country. 

It is estimated that at least 507 people have died or gone missing in 2019 so far in the Central and Western Mediterranean. The number of migrants that died at the hands of traffickers even before beginning the journey is unknown but could be even higher. 

Thousands continue to move in Africa 

UNHCR is urging states to intervene to make up for dangerous gaps in rescue efforts in the Mediterranean, to do more to dismantle trafficking networks and to ensure that those behind such violations are held legally responsible through all available legal mechanisms. It is necessary, Cochetel said, to redouble efforts to develop complementary channels making it possible to find solutions for refugee conditions, for example through more effective access to family reunification procedures. 

Due to over 15 conflicts underway in Africa, thousands of people continue to move, often with imprecise information and unrealistic expectations, he added. These people face serious dangers and risk death at the hands of traffickers. He urged that more be done to stop ever more people from falling prey to those trying to profit off their vulnerability and desperation.
 

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