See and protect
ICMC publishes study of legal obligations and responses to boat people arriving across the Mediterranean and North Atlantic
See and protect
BRUSSELS, 8 December 2011—ICMC today launches its new publication "MAYDAY! Strengthening responses of assistance and protection to boat people and other migrants arriving in Southern Europe". The publication sheds light on gaps in responding to boat people and other migrants arriving in Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain. "It is not so much the arrivals of migrants and refugees that should be put to question, but rather the response mechanisms," observes Johan Ketelers, Secretary General of ICMC.
MAYDAY!: the universal distress call, broadcast by those on ships or planes in mortal distress, and urgently in need of assistance. MAYDAY!: a call that often comes in vain. “With 1971 boatpeople having perished in the Mediterranean Sea while trying to reach European soil from North Africa, the year 2011 sets a sad record as the deadliest year for boatpeople,” said Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) member and rapporteur Tineke Strik at the end of a hearing organised by the PACE Migration Committee in Strasbourg, 30 November.
For those who survive the dangerous journey to Europe, protection and assistance is not always available. The report shows that there are often no or inadequate procedures in place to identify those who are entitled to protection, such as asylum seekers, children, victims of trafficking and torture. Humanitarian assistance upon arrival is often provided only on an ad-hoc basis and lacks the expertise to deal with particular protection needs. Many are sent to detention for a lengthy period of time, live in destitution and experience a general lack of respect for their most basic and fundamental human rights.
The report includes detailed information obtained from country surveys in Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain, interviews with government officials and NGOs as well as surveys with migrants. It further looks at good practices developed and provides recommendations to stakeholders. It calls on the European Commission and its agencies—especially the new European Asylum Support Office (EASO), the European external borders agency FRONTEX and the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), to jointly develop a framework to promote protection–sensitive procedures at borders and points of embarkation. DRIVE project partners and research point in particular to a major gap in protecting and assisting migrants who have suffered violence and trauma along their journey.
This publication is an outcome of the DRIVE project (“Differentiation for Refugee Identification and Vulnerability Evaluation”), led by ICMC-Europe. Co-funded by the European Commission through the European Refugee Fund, DRIVE partners included seven other non-governmental organisations: ACCEM, CEAR (The Spanish Commission for Refugee Aid), CIR (Italian Council for Refugees Foundation), ECRE (European Council on Refugees and Exiles), JRS Malta (Jesuit Refugee Service), PRAKSIS in Greece and Save the Children Italy. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration also engaged actively in the development of the DRIVE study and it recommendations.
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