European Union: Stop The Migrant Boat Disasters

Last Saturday’s migrant boat disaster claimed over 700 lives and is the latest in a series of tragedies on the Mediterranean Sea.

 

Médecins du Monde (MdM) calls on the European Union – and global actors such as the United Nations – to take immediate action to ensure the safety of those fleeing political and economic crises in the Middle East and Africa, to put an end to these repeated tragedies at sea, and to recognize migration as a fundamental human right.

“European governments cannot avoid dealing with this problem,” said Miranda Sissons, executive director of Doctors of the World USA, part of the global MdM network. “Past experience shows that we need active solutions, not heads buried in sand.”

According to UNHCR, more than 3,500 people died attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea in 2014. After Saturday’s tragedy, and just a few short months into the new year, 2015’s death toll already stands at over 1,500.

There are many reasons why people risk their lives – and those of their children – to flee their home countries. Violence, war, poverty, hunger, discrimination, and hope for a better future all play a role. But migration in response to such extreme and dangerous circumstances as these can hardly be considered a choice.

Speaking on the latest disaster, Thierry Brigaud, president of Médecins du Monde, said “Due to an escalation in conflicts around the world, a growing number of people are fleeing their home countries with no prospect of returning. How can we not be outraged that Europe cannot organize even one Mediterranean Sea rescue worthy of the name? If European leaders continue to procrastinate UNHCR should step in and lead rescue operations. The United Nations has the responsibility to protect civilians fleeing these war zones.”

Médecins du Monde has long been committed to serving migrant populations and advocating for migrant rights. MdM accompanies refugees from their home countries of Afghanistan, Syria, sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere, and along the migration routes through Turkey, Algeria and other countries. Along the routes, MdM provides much-needed medical care and bears witness to the negative health consequences of the migration policies implemented by European countries and others.

Doctors of the World USA is a US-based, 501 (c) (3) non-profit that is part of the global Médecins du Monde network. Doctors of the World provides emergency and long-term medical care to vulnerable people, while fighting for equal access to healthcare worldwide. Founded in France in 1980, the network cares for the most vulnerable through 350 programs in more than 80 countries, including in the United States.