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UN rights chief seeks assist as Mediterranean refugee deaths surge | Refugees Information

Volker Turk urges enlargement of rescue operations after a ‘steep improve’ in variety of folks making dangerous makes an attempt to cross the central Mediterranean to Europe.

The UN human rights chief has known as for an enlargement in search-and-rescue operations after a rise within the variety of refugees and asylum seekers making dangerous makes an attempt to cross the central Mediterranean to Europe.

“We’re seeing a steep improve within the variety of determined folks placing their lives at grave threat,” the UN Excessive Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk stated in a press release on Thursday. “We can’t afford to dither, and to turn out to be embroiled in yet one more debate about who’s accountable.”

Turk additionally known as for solidarity with Italy, which has historically acquired most arrivals, including that the Italian coastguard had rescued some 2,000 folks on the route since Friday. Italy’s right-wing authorities this week imposed a six-month state of emergency to cope with the scenario.

“Human lives are at stake,” he stated, whereas additionally urging Italy’s authorities to scrap a regulation handed this yr that restricted civilian search-and rescue-operations.

The enchantment got here a day after the UN’s migration company stated greater than 400 folks had drowned within the Central Mediterranean throughout the first three months of the yr, as rising numbers of individuals try to succeed in Europe through the Mediterranean.

The Worldwide Group for Migration (IOM) on Wednesday introduced the reported variety of folks lifeless and lacking alongside the central Mediterranean reached the highest degree of any first quarter since 2017 within the first three months of this yr.

The IOM documented 441 refugee deaths alongside the route throughout January, February and March 2023, in contrast with 742 in 2017 and 446 in 2015.

“The persisting humanitarian disaster within the central Mediterranean is insupportable,” stated IOM head Antonio Vitorino, calling for extra search-and-rescue operations by state authorities.

The European Union border company Frontex stated 3 times as many individuals sought to succeed in the EU throughout the Mediterranean within the first three months of 2023 in contrast with a yr earlier than.

Frontex reported 54,000 “irregular” crossings into the bloc through all routes within the first quarter of the yr, up a fifth from 2022.

“The Central Mediterranean route accounts for greater than half of all irregular border crossings into the EU,” Frontex stated in a press release on Wednesday, including that just about 28,000 folks had arrived that method from the beginning of the yr till the top of March, 3 times as many as in the identical interval in 2022.

“Organised crime teams took benefit of higher climate and political volatility in some nations of departure to attempt to smuggle as many [people] as attainable throughout the Central Mediterranean from Tunisia and Libya.”

The Italian authorities on Wednesday introduced a state of emergency following a “sharp rise” in arrivals throughout the Mediterranean, a transfer that can enable it to ship again refugees extra shortly.

Rome has requested the EU to do extra to cease sea arrivals, the most recent instance of how refugee crossings have returned to the highest of the bloc’s political agenda as world mobility picked up final yr from COVID pandemic lows.

Additionally Thursday, the Worldwide Federation of Pink Cross and Pink Crescent Societies stated it was scaling up humanitarian help and safety providers alongside the route — together with psychological assist, first assist, household reunification providers and assist with disembarkation in Italy.



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