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Urgent action needed to protect displaced people

Without immediate action to protect migrants on land and at sea, the number of people killed while seeking safety, security and a better future is likely to increase.

Wednesday June 1, 2016

Red Cross helping dispaced people in the Mediterranean
Red Cross helping dispaced people in the Mediterranean. Image: Charlotte Hyest / IFRC / Belgian Red Cross

As the weather becomes warmer and the Mediterranean becomes calmer, the number of people seeking refuge in Europe is likely to climb.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is calling for urgent action to protect the lives and dignity of people on the move. More than 700 people are believed to have drowned trying to cross from Libya to Italy in the past week - the highest death toll on the Mediterranean migration route for a year, according to UNHCR. Secretary General Elhadj As Sy from the IFRC said

"This unacceptable tragedy is another wake-up call for the world to commit to shared humanitarian values in responding to the migration crisis.

"People are risking their lives to find safety and hope every day. We must not accept this.

"Any solution must address the factors that push people to take the difficult decision to leave home because of wars, political instability, poverty and persecution prevailing in so many parts of the world. A journey in search of a better and safer life is turning the Mediterranean sea to a vast graveyard", said Mr. Sy.

"We urge world leaders to provide safe routes for people seeking sanctuary and refuge. We reiterate our call for all Governments and institutions to ensure the protection of migrants, and for all people to recognize their right to safety and dignity.

"For our part, we will continue to support all those who need our help."

In our work across the world, Red Cross understands the complexities of migration, especially around the conflict many are fleeing. We are present and are providing assistance and protection where it's needed. We know the heart aching sadness of missing family members at sea - we are tracing lost family, returning remains, and seeking to identify bodies recovered from sea. We also know the joy of reconnecting families through our tracing program.

Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies are providing help where it's needed. Working along the migration trail they are providing urgently needed food, shelter and health services. In Italy, the Red Cross is present at every port with doctors, nurses, interpreters, services to reconnect family members and, where needed, is treating deceased people with dignity and respect.

Read IFRC Secretary General Elhadj As Sy's opinion piece: The deafening silence of 700 lost souls