from AHMED ZAYED in Tripoli, Libya
TRIPOLI, (CAJ News) – AT least 632 people have died on the central Mediterranean Sea en-route to Europe this year.
The Libyan government and European Union (EU) have been urged to reform their search and rescue policies in order to avoid such deaths of migrants
Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, made the call as a report she released on Wednesday indicating a lack of human rights protection for migrants at sea.
“The real tragedy is that so much of the suffering and death along the central Mediterranean route is preventable,” Bachelet said.
“Every year, people drown because help comes too late, or never comes at all. Those who are rescued are sometimes forced to wait for days or weeks to be safely disembarked or, as has increasingly been the case, are returned to Libya which, as has been stressed on countless occasions, is not a safe harbour due to the cycle of violence.”
The report, which covers the period from January 2019 to December 2020, notes with concern that the EU and its Member States have cut back significantly on their maritime search and rescue operations, while humanitarian groups have been obstructed from carrying out their life-saving rescue operations.
In addition, private commercial vessels increasingly avoid going to the aid of migrants in distress because of delays and stand-offs over their eventual disembarkation in a port of safety.
The Libyan Coast Guard (LCG) intercepted at least 10 352 migrants at sea in 2020. This is compared to at least 8 403 in 2019.
– CAJ News