‘If we fail to save lives, all hope will be lost’: NGO Statement

The ‘Ten point action plan on migration’ unveiled on Monday needs to emphasise the urgency of mobilising all the resources necessary to save as many lives as possible. We reiterate our serious concerns that men, women and children have been drowning in the Mediterranean for many years. Notwithstanding, calls for efforts to prevent such tragedies have so far not been received by strong and effective political commitments.

Whilst we welcome the migration plan as a possible sign of such commitment, we regret to note that it essentially repeats proposals and recommendations made over recent years. In particular, it omits to include efforts at preventing Mediterranean crossings by exploring safe and legal avenues of entry into Europe. It also fails to mention the need to guarantee dignified reception conditions to survivors, to ensure prompt access to asylum procedures and to establish appropriate modalities to respectfully deal with corpses and their possessions.

In this regard we further stress that the terrible activities of unscrupulous human smugglers and traffickers should definitely be curbed, yet also that these efforts would be futile if the dependency on smuggling and trafficking is not properly addressed. Furthermore, it is imperative that any plan is firmly based on the principle of solidarity as enshrined in the spirit of the European Union. We also stress that any measure seeking to contain migrants in Libya should not be considered in view of the on-going conflict, rendering Libya unable to protect its own nationals and any person on its territory.

We remain hopeful that tomorrow’s European Council meeting will first and foremost end with a loud and clear statement in favour of human life, coupled with a firm commitment to immediately engage in life-saving activities. We also look forward to the Council building on the plan’s proposals in recognition of the situation’s complex nature, requiring solutions that are comprehensive, inclusive and respect fundamental human rights at all stages.

From tomorrow’s European Council meeting we expect conclusions that remind us of the values Europe stands for.

Statement of:

aditus foundation, African Media Association Malta, Caritas Malta, Foundation for Shelter and Support of Migrants, Integra Foundation, International Association for Refugees, Jesuit Refugee Service (Malta), KOPIN, Malta Emigrants’ Commission, Migrant’s Network for Equality, Organisation for Friendship in Diversity, Peace Lab, People for Change Foundation, SOS Malta.

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