Collaborative action to prevent detention and deaths at sea needed

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African asylum seekers rescued off boats and taken aboard an Italy navy ship, June 8, 2014.© Massimo Sestini / eyevine

Since January, over 4000 people migrating have died or gone missing, with over 3000 of those missing en route to Europe.  In just this last month a migrant boat was reportedly attacked by people traffickers, with 500 people feared deliberately drowned, including 100 children.

Globally voices are calling for action for safer solutions.

Detention does not deter, reduce or stop the arrival of people by boat, nor does it effectively manage people who have arrived.  A lack of safe options or support in North Africa, including high risk of immigration detention and/or refoulment in many countries, may be one reason for people taking unsafe onward journeys in the MENA region.

IOM reports, there are “more than 200,000 migrant workers in Libya, of which 7,000 are vulnerable and in need of evacuation assistance, transit or border reception, health services and psychosocial support.” Assistance to these migrants could potentially protect against detention while simultaneously stopping people from taking further dangerous journeys.

Urban Refugees similarly highlights the troubles and risks face by asylum seekers and refugees in urban environments, which may again suggest why refugees make onward journeys in some instances:

‘When they settle in a city, urban refugees are usually confronted with the same poverty problems as the local urban poor. Yet they also face additional challenges due to their refugee status: in most cases, they live with the constant fear of being arrested, detained and returned forcibly to their home country. They are denied access to basic services such as education or health and are exposed to harassment, intimidation and discrimination.’

Solutions may not always be easy to come by or clear – but the need for collaborative action to prevent further deaths is.