Dramatic scenes have occurred once again in the Mediterranean this week. Migrants desperately seeking to join European soil have been seen jumping off over packed boats looking for any kind of attention of those who still save them from dying at sea.
Perilously wanting to join European ground, migrants are jammed onto dinghy boats swimming into the Mediterranean from the Libyan coast where once the African continent disappears from the horizon, their faith is in the hands of vessels who are ready to give them a hand. If rescue doesn’t show up, they sink into the sea where they will be forgotten and enlarge the shameful mass grave at our european borders.
Human Rights at Sea CEO David Hammond spoke to the BBC last week (31/08/16) about the current migrant issue.This follows the peak of migrant rescue in the past week where more than 12.000 migrants have been rescued off the Libyan coast.
The situation raises questions about the evolution of the migration crisis and its context over the past months. After closing its border to migrants, Greece cut off access to the flow of people from the Middle East searching for asylum in agreement with Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights protection: the right to life of those fleeing war and violence. Most of them were Syrians running from civil war.
However, after this border has been closed by application of the Agreement between the European Union and Turkey (20th of March 2016), the flow has intensified between Lybia and Italy. This fact makes us then question the origin of today’s migrants who everyday still take the decision of risking their lives crossing the sea without #safepassage .
A Human Rights at Sea research shows that migrants seeking for economic wellness are still ready to take this risk hoping for a better life standard across the sea. However, this does not limit their rights since sending them back to Libya would constitute a violation of the non-refoulement principle of the Article 33 of the 1951 Geneva Convention on Refugees, as seen in HRAS publication Volunteer maritime rescuers: Awareness of criminalisation.
As said in the interview, Libyan detention facilities do not comply to many human rights. Returning migrants to Libya would then imply having them face violence and torture while being kept for indefinite periods in the concerned detention facilities, not to remind the current political situation in which the country is.
Once again, it shows the difficulties of the current crisis the European Union is in, but also how quickly it evolves. In collaboration with Sea Watch, we will never say it enough, #safepassage is urgent in order to diminish the horrendous number of daily deaths in the Mediterranean, but also to provide a legal path for those seeking refuge.
Melanie Glodkiewicz, Human Rights at Sea intern.