UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi asked the European Union (EU) this Thursday to place security and solidarity at the center of the response to migration issues to be debated by member states on Friday.
meeting tomorrow [sexta-feira] EU Home Ministers at an extraordinary meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council is an opportunity to put security and solidarity at the center of our actions in the Mediterranean and all other migratory routes,” Grandi said.
Interior ministers from 27 EU countries are meeting in Brussels on Friday to discuss migration policy following a diplomatic incident between Paris and Rome over Italy’s refusal to accept more ships to rescue migrants.
Italy ‘by no means intends’ to deal with migration pressure alone
The meeting was requested by France, which welcomed the Ocean Viking from the non-governmental organization (NGO) SOS Mediterranee last week after the ship was off the coast of Italy for nearly three weeks requesting a port of entry. 230 migrants land.
Ministers will also discuss a proposal by the European Commission to strengthen the plan to prevent migrants from leaving their countries of origin by allocating about 600 million euros until 2023 to support countries in North Africa.
In addition, the Commission wants more cooperation between Member States and specific rules for humanitarian rescue ships.
I welcome the proposed EU action plan for the Central Mediterranean, which will serve as the basis for an extraordinary session of the Council of Justice and Home Affairs,” said a UN refugee spokesman, believing that the proposal “ensures solidarity between states and commitment to respecting long-standing legal and moral obligations maritime rescue and safe and predictable disembarkation.
Recalling that nearly 2,000 people have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean this year, Filippo Grandi stressed the need for urgent action.
“While states point fingers and shift blame, people are dying. What is needed is a more coordinated state-led search and rescue effort, predictable landings in safe locations, and quick access to screening and asylum procedures to identify those who may need international protection and return – safely and with dignity – those who are not eligible for refugee status,” the representative said in a statement sent to the newsrooms.
However, the High Commissioner considers it necessary “broader reforms towards a more efficient and fair general asylum system”.
The European Commission submitted a proposal for a migration and asylum pact in September 2020, but disagreements between member states keep the issue under negotiation.
“With so many lives at stake, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) recognizes the vital importance of maritime rescue by all involved, including NGO rescue boats,” he said.
The United Nations agency “will continue to support States in finding and implementing immediate and humane solutions, in accordance with international law, to prevent further unnecessary deaths at sea,” Grandi concluded.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Wednesday that more than 50,000 people have died on migratory routes since 2014, most of them trying to reach Europe.
More than half of the 50,000 deaths documented by IOM occurred on routes to and within Europe, with at least 25,104 deaths in the Mediterranean.