16 November 2020
Over 110 people died after being shipwrecked in the Central Mediterranean over the course of a week in early November. Meanwhile, almost 500 people lost their lives attempting to reach the Canary Islands from Senegal in one week in late October. Seven years ago, following a similar tragedy, EU officials promised that beefing up Frontex and increasing border surveillance would help prevent such incidents.
More than 110 migrants die in Mediterranean in three days (The Guardian, link):
"Four shipwrecks in the space of three days have claimed the lives of more than 110 people in the Mediterranean, including at least 70 people whose bodies have washed up on the beach of al-Khums, in western Libya.
“This is a massacre at Europe’s borders,” said a spokesperson for Alarm Phone, a hotline for migrant boats in distress. “What else can we say? We have called for radical changes for years and still the dying continues. It is devastating.’’"
And: 500 migrants have died in a week trying to reach the Canaries [500 migrantes han muerto intentando llegar a Canarias en una semana] (Cadena Ser, link, translation by Statewatch)
According to the NGO Caminando Fronteras, 480 Senegalese citizens lost their lives trying to reach the Canaries in small boats during the last week of October. 'It's a terrible tragedy that in just a few days so many lives have been lost, this year the Canaries route is causing a shameful number of deaths,' said Helena Maleno, the NGO's spokesperson."
It is worth recalling the statements made by senior Commission officials just over seven years ago, when almost 300 people died just off the coast of Lampedusa. The then-President, Manuel Barroso, argued that more powers for Frontex and increased border surveillance would help prevent future such tragedies. History appears to have proven him wrong.
Meanwhile the Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmstrom, highlighted that:
"We also need a change of approach towards migration. The recent events have shown that this restrictive approach is not a sustainable one and that it is now time to move towards more openness and solidarity."
She called on the member states to open new routes for legal migration, to welcome more refugees through new means (such as humanitarian visas) and to step up their commitment to refugee resettlement. Then, as now, they are failing in those tasks.
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