A migrant rescue off the coast of Libya in June 2020 | Photo: ANSA/Mediterranea Saving Humans
A migrant rescue off the coast of Libya in June 2020 | Photo: ANSA/Mediterranea Saving Humans

The Jesuit Refugee Service in Italy, Centro Astalli, reiterated its appeal for the immediate evacuation of migrants from Libya, as well as the Greek Islands and the Balkans, after 43 migrants died in a shipwreck off the coast of Libya on January 19.

The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in Italy, Centro Astalli, released a statement calling for the evacuation of migrants from Libya, following a recent shipwreck.

"There were 53 people aboard the boat that overturned on the night of January 19 off the Libyan coast of Zuwara," the statement said.

"Forty-three migrants died and 10 were recovered at sea and brought back to Libya, the place they were fleeing from," it said.

Also read: Shipwreck off Libya: One of the victims was known to InfoMigrants

Centro Astalli said it is "forcefully calling on those in roles of responsibility to immediately carry out a political act of discontinuity: evacuate Libya as well as the Greek islands and the Balkans."

It called for "finding dignified solutions for all, without ever departing from the respect for human rights and international conventions on migrants and refugees."

'Serious management problem at European borders'

JRS said it "expresses condolences for the victims" of the shipwreck, the first of its kind in 2021, "and deep concern for the conditions of the migrants trying to arrive in Europe without the chance to access legal entrance routes."

"Every day we hear about torture and violence in the stories of the migrants we meet at Centro Astalli," said Father Camillo Ripamonti, president of Centro Astalli.

"In Libya people have no chance other than to try to escape. The situation they describe is a generalized climate of violence and terror," he said. "It is clear that there is a very serious problem of border management on the part of European states and an intolerable inertia on the part of national and supranational organisations," he said.

Also read: Call for immediate migrant relocations from Libya to Italy

Hundreds of deaths in Central Mediterranean in 2020

Father Ripamonti said that the Greek Islands, the Balkans, the Spanish border and the Central Mediterranean, "despite having different judicial contexts, are all places of death."

"It isn't possible to continue to ignore the mass slaughter that is taking place at the doors of our home," he said.

According to the United Nations, hundreds of people lost their lives last year trying to cross the Central Mediterranean, which saw the highest number of victims in a single migratory journey worldwide.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) fear that, due to the limited ability to monitor the routes, the actual number of people who died in the Central Mediterranean in 2020 could be much higher.


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