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Lost lives in the Mediterranean: 2014 sets sad records

Strasbourg, 03.10.2014 - The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), meeting on the closing day of its Autumn session in Strasbourg, stood for a minute of silence today in memory of the lives lost in the Mediterranean, exactly one year to the day after 368 Eritrean refugees and migrants drowned off the Italian island of Lampedusa.

PACE President Anne Brasseur said that 2014 had set “a sad new record”, with 3000 lives lost in the Mediterranean so far, in comparison to just over 600 in 2013, according to UNHCR figures. “How many more human lives does it need to end this disgrace?” she asked.

The figures also showed that more refugees and migrants have arrived by sea in the Mediterranean this year than in the four previous years put together.

“These recurring tragedies can only be stopped through co-ordinated European action,” said the President. “This should include a safe passage for asylum seekers and refugees to Europe through further harmonisation of common asylum procedures and solidarity with those countries where flows are greatest.” She called on states to implement the recommendations contained in PACE’s June 2014 resolution on “The left-to-die boat: actions and reactions”.

In that resolution PACE called for “zero tolerance towards lives lost at sea”, recommending binding common standards for search and rescue, greater help for coastal states carrying it out, and ending disincentives for private vessels to conduct rescues. It encouraged its member States to increase resettlement quotas for persons in need of international protection and adopt a common approach to humanitarian visas.

It also proposed the creation of a new international crime, possibly defined as a crime against humanity, targeting those who “receive a financial benefit for transporting people in a vessel which is unsafe for the purpose and which may cause death or injury at sea”.