A handout photo made available by German civil sea rescue organization Sea-eye shows a boat carrying migrants (l) and a rescue boat of Sea-eye, in the Mediterranean sea | Photo: SEA-EYE
A handout photo made available by German civil sea rescue organization Sea-eye shows a boat carrying migrants (l) and a rescue boat of Sea-eye, in the Mediterranean sea | Photo: SEA-EYE

The UN refugee agency UNHCR has urged European governments to restart migrant rescue operations and to alleviate the suffering of thousands of refugees and migrants caught in the conflict in Libya.

The UN refugee agency UNHCR stressed in a statement issued in the wake of a deadly shipwreck off Libya ''the terrible urgency of our repeated pleas to European and other governments for restoring sea rescues and help with alleviating the suffering of the thousands of refugees and migrants caught in the conflict in Libya."


The statement noted that even before the accident last week, in which up to 150 migrants and refugees are believed to have lost their lives, ''669 deaths had been reported on the Mediterranean Sea so far in 2019."

'States must work on resettlements' 

"UNHCR takes this opportunity to urge States once again to come forward with additional help, including further resettlement places and other safe pathways out of Libya for people who are vulnerable and at risk," the statement said. 

''Such actions are just as important as sea rescues for saving lives. In addition, more must be done to arrest and prosecute the ruthless traffickers and smugglers who profit from people's desperation, and overturn the business model on which they rely," the agency noted. 

Amnesty urges European leaders to give 'courageous response' 

Amnesty International said the latest deadly shipwreck off Libya's coast demanded a ''courageous response'' from European leaders. Massimo Moratti, Research Director for Europe at Amnesty International, said the high number of victims ''represents a new low for European leaders." 

"They have done everything they can to pull up the drawbridge to Europe; withdrawing Search and Rescue Operations; criminalizing NGO rescue boats; cooperating with the Libyan coastguard, and yet people are still risking their lives to come to Europe," Moratti was quoted as saying in a statement issued by Amnesty.

"Despite the increasingly risky journey and the unspeakable obstacles, people attempting the crossing to Europe demonstrate enormous hope in a better future and enormous courage to make it happen," he said. "We need to see European leaders show some courage too and shift their approach to a humane one which saves lives and doesn't condemn those who survive to detention in Libya."
 

More articles