UN urges EU to focus on safety of Mediterranean migrants

GENEVA – The United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi on Thursday called on the European Union (EU) to put safety and solidarity at the heart of its action in the Mediterranean and along all other migratory routes.

On the eve of the meeting of EU interior ministers at an extraordinary session of the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council, the UN refugee chief said in a statement that so far this year, almost 2,000 migrants have died or gone missing while attempting to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.

“While states point fingers and trade blame, lives are lost. What is needed is more state-led and better coordinated search and rescue efforts, predictable disembarkations in places of safety, and expedited access to screening and asylum procedures to identify those who may need international protection, and return in safety and with dignity those who do not,” he said.

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, has constantly advocated that the vulnerabilities of all migrants and refugees who cross the Mediterranean — including accompanied and unaccompanied children, victims of trafficking and survivors of torture — should be identified, in order to activate national and international protection and reception mechanisms.

Those arriving from conflict zones have in many cases suffered severe abuse and human rights violations, UNHCR said.

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