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Rapporteurs welcome UNHCR proposals to improve Europe’s response to mass migration

Two PACE rapporteurs dealing with migration have welcomed the announcement by the UNHCR of proposals for European action in the Mediterranean Sea.

The proposals are intended above all to protect the lives of those risking the dangerous maritime route across the Mediterranean Sea and more equitably to share the responsibility for addressing their immediate and long-term protection needs.

“I fully support the UNHCR’s call for a robust European search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean, as the current Operation Triton, although well-intentioned, is inadequate as a replacement for Italy’s former Mare Nostrum operation”, said Ms Daphné Dumery (Belgium, NI), PACE rapporteur on ‘the Mediterranean Sea: a front door to irregular migration’. “We have seen that ending Mare Nostrum has not, as some claimed it would, discouraged migrants’ attempts to cross the Mediterranean, even in unseaworthy boats and dangerous weather and often at the cost of their lives. This is hardly surprising given the numbers of people fleeing terrible conflict and persecution in countries such as Eritrea, Syria and Libya. Europe has a simple moral duty to take action to save these lives.”

“The Dublin Regulation is not working as intended: it is not being properly implemented now, but even if it were, the system would still be in need of far-reaching reform,” said Mr Michele Nicoletti, PACE rapporteur on ‘assessing the need for a comprehensive review of the Dublin Regulation and its implementation (Italy, SOC). “As a starting point, the EU should give effect to the UNHCR’s proposal to use all tools available under the Dublin Regulation to achieve more equitable sharing of responsibility. I also agree with the UNHCR’s call for greater EU support to those countries dealing with disproportionately large numbers of asylum seekers and its proposal of a pilot project for fair distribution of relocated Syrian refugees. As the UNHCR states, greater intra-European solidarity is needed in addressing the desperate plight of these victims of war.”