26 July 2019 - Global

Europe must take action as tragedy unfolds on its doorstep

As security conditions in Libya continue to deteriorate, Save the Children calls for EU and member states to take urgent action to establish safe routes from crisis zones.

“The terrible tragedy at sea that happened yesterday, which cost the lives of up to 150 children and adults, must force Europe to face its responsibilities. The death of hundreds of children, women and men is a dark mirror of the inability of the international community, and especially Europe, to manage migration”, said Raffaella Milano, Director of Save the Children Domestic Programs in Italy.

Save the Children, which has been fighting for child rights for 100 years, says it is unacceptable that Europe does not take action in the face of the tragedy that continues to unfold on its doorstep.

While fewer refugees and migrants cross the Mediterranean Sea, data shows that more of them are likely to drown – in 2018, one in 14 people who made the perilous journey died at sea, against one in 38 in 2017.

As the security situation in Libya worsens, refugees and migrants have few options: either they become trapped inside the country, or they flee across the Mediterranean or the Niger desert. Among migrants and refugees undertaking these perilous journeys are many minors – teenagers, but also younger children, often traveling on their own. Unaccompanied children are especially vulnerable during these journeys.

"Saving lives must be the priority for EU member states. It is essential that the international community, and Europe above all, steps up its efforts to establish safe routes for migrants traveling from crisis areas. This is the only way to prevent tens of thousands of people being forced to rely on smugglers to flee to safety, putting their lives in grave danger to cross the Mediterranean Sea. Yesterday’s tragedy is the terrible proof of that.”

Save the Children calls for EU member states to prioritise the lives of migrants and asylum seekers crossing the Mediterranean, many of whom are children. This should be done in a coordinated and solution focussed manner between the European Commission and EU member states.

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