The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) called on European countries to allow the landing in their ports of 507 illegal migrants from Libya, rescued in the Mediterranean by the courts of non-governmental organizations Ocean Viking and Open Arms.
As noted in a statement released on Tuesday in Geneva, “UNHCR asks European governments to allow the immediate landing of 507 people who were recently rescued in the central Mediterranean Sea and are in distress.” There are 356 migrants on the Ocean Viking, and 151 on the Open Arms.
The UNHCR Special Envoy on the situation in the Central Mediterranean, Vincent Caultel, emphasized that weather conditions at sea “are only getting worse.” “Leaving people fleeing the war and violence in Libya at sea would mean adding new suffering to the old,” he said, calling for the courts to be allowed to land on shore so that migrants could receive humanitarian aid.
UNHCR believes that Libya, where fighting is taking place, “cannot be considered a safe haven, and no one should be returned there.” As emphasized by this agency, it is necessary to strengthen search and rescue operations in the central part of the Mediterranean Sea. In his view, the role that non-governmental organizations play in this regard “should be recognized and supported.”
According to the International Organization for Migration, since the beginning of 2019, more than 41.5 thousand migrants arrived in Europe across the Mediterranean Sea, 843 people died or went missing on the way.