Amnesty condems EU response to migrant deaths at sea

Amnesty condems EU response to migrant deaths at sea

[JURIST] Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] on Wednesday criticized [press release] the EU’s failure to prevent migrant casualties at sea. The statement comes amid reports that as many as 300 migrants may have died off the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa Monday while attempting to flee adverse conditions in their home countries. The few rescued survivors provided information regarding the missing, who are believed to be young adults traveling from sub-Saharan Africa. According to the rights group, the EU Triton operation, which serves as the replacement for the terminated Italian search and rescue operation, is inadequate to address the pressing issue of increasing numbers of migrants willing to cross treacherous waters to gain entry into the safe borders of the EU. A program director for AI expressed the issue succinctly: “It’s a simple equation—as the number of people taking this perilous sea route goes up and the resources put into search and rescue go down, more people will die.” The group urged the EU to expend more resources towards preventing future migrants from being lost at sea.

Immigration reform has been an area of major political concern in a number of countries across the globe. In February a UN rights expert advised the EU to bank on the continued mobility of migrants [JURIST report]. In November UK Prime Minister David Cameron raised the possibility of the UK leaving the EU [JURIST report] if other member state leaders block plans to restrict access to welfare payments for migrants. Cameron outlined proposed welfare reform that would block European migrants to the UK from receiving welfare payments or state housing until they have been UK residents for four years. Also in November US President Barrack Obama announced executive action [JURIST report] on immigration that would allow 4.7 million undocumented immigrants to stay in the US. In October a UN expert urged [JURIST report] British authorities to reconsider their decision not to support search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean. In September the Israeli High Court of Justice ordered [JURIST report] a detention center used to detain African migrants who had crossed illegally and were captured in the Negev Desert to close.