Sea off Europe’s southern coastline has become a graveyard for desperate people


Sea off Europe’s southern coastline has become a graveyard for desperate people fleeing. – The EU and the Italian authorities have put into immediate action to ensure the safety of refugees arriving by sea, according to Amnesty.
4 OCTOBER 2013


The number of casualties from Thursday’s refugee shipwreck still rising. So far, 130 persons died. Still around 200 missing. The Italian Coast Guard and local fishermen managed to rescue 150 of the total of 500 refugees on their way to the Italian island of Lampedusa.
This is the second accident in less than a week. Earlier this week, lost 13 Eritreans life in the attempt.
Protecting life, not borders
– This happens again and again. Now it is high time that the Italian authorities and the EU moves focus.Today is concentrated resources of coastal guards and Frontex, the EU’s external border enforcement, to protect the borders. The European states must realize the seriousness and put into immediate action to seek and to save the lives of refugees who have wrecked beyond Europe’s borders, says Beate Ekeløve-Slydal, political advisor to Amnesty International in Norway. 
Thousands of refugees venturing annually on the dangerous journey from North Africa to Europe by boat. Often the rusty hulks loaded much heavier than the vessels have the capacity. Throughout the year, arriving boats with refugees coast of Italy, Spain and the west coast of Turkey. Dark figures are large, the actual numbers of how many people travel and how many people never reach the shores of Europe does not exist. 
– The majority of those who embark on this dangerous journey is fully aware of the risks it entails. Yet they do.It says something about how desperate they are, continue Ekeløve-Slydal.  
Searching asylum home
Amnesty asks that efforts redouble to help refugees in danger and that the EU and the European states together looking at solutions that can prevent more lives being lost.
– A specific solution is to give people the opportunity to seek asylum in embassies in the countries they are in. How can you limit the number who embark on these dangerous and costly journeys, she says, referring to the exorbitant sums smugglers take to facilitate the dangerous journeys. 
Responsibility is not geographically contingent
The geography makes it the Southern European countries, already burdened by economic crisis, which today must bear the greatest burden of people fleeing persecution, war and poverty. Dublin II agreement, which states that refugees should apply for asylum in the first country they arrive, make this worse.
– Experience shows that the system is not sustainable. Greece kneels and have the capacity to protect the rights of people to come. It’s time for a burden sharing. Norway and other European countries can not hide behind the Dublin II and handing responsibility to poorer countries in southern Europe, says Ekeløve-Slydal.
She reminds us that every human being has a basic fundamental right to seek asylum and Norway a commitment to provide people who need protection.
– The rhetoric here at home is always of us to help refugees where they are and that we must at all costs keep them out. As if that does not concern us before they cross the borders. While governments in Europe are most keen to shift blame to each other, people continue to die. This is a common European responsibility rich Norway needs help, she says.


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