Deaths at Sea: ‘No more excuses’!

Amid public shock and anger at the tragic death of more than 900 people including refugees fleeing war and persecution in Syria, Eritrea, Somalia and Libya, the EU Council held an ”emergency” summit on April 23rd. Following a moment of silence to mourn these preventable deaths, EU leaders went back to business as usual.

We deeply regret that our recommendations were not addressed in the Council’s conclusions which fall short, both politically and morally. It seems that comments made by Federica Mogherini, EU High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy that ‘with this latest tragedy… we have no more excuses, the EU has no more excuses, the member states have no more excuses” have fallen on deaf ears.

As is the case for most civil society organisations throughout the region, the EMHRN, cannot stand cross-armed in face of such shocking contradiction. We firmly intend to keep reminding EU decision-makers not to pay lip service to migration challenges but seek to address them, for the sake of those men, women and children still facing the same fate in the Mediterranean.


Please help us make a difference… We invite you to write to EU Heads of State/Government, Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Ministers of the Interior.


Dear (Name/Function),

I write to you to express my deep concerns about the fact the extraordinary European Summit of 23 April adopted Council’s conclusions that fall far short – both politically and morally – of the humanitarian challenges posed by the repetitive tragedies in the Mediterranean sea. In the face of such tragedies, the EU should reinforce existing search-and-rescue mechanisms across all the Mediterranean to save more lives, rather than tightening border controls.

I’m shocked by the death toll at sea, which has risen to 1,800 this year alone. By framing a humanitarian pressing issue in security terms and refusing to offer legal safe channels to migrants and refugees, the EU evades its responsibility toward its plagued neighbours and woefully leaves men, women and children perish in the sea.

At domestic and European level, I exhort you to:

  1. Urgently prioritise search and rescue tasks over surveillance, and provide both financial and technical support to competent Search and Rescue (SAR) mechanisms and not to Frontex;
  2. Open legal and secure channels to all migrants, and ensure that refugees have access to the European territory where their individual situation can be assessed;
  3. Urgently activate the 2001 Directive on Temporary Protection, and address resettlement needs of refugees massively fleeing conflicts in the Middle East, particularly victims of the conflict in Syria, and in sub-Saharan Africa;
  4. Stop conditioning access to mobility to the EU for non-EU nationals upon the signature of readmission agreements by their country of origin, and stop using external cooperation as a means to reinforce border controls.

Yours sincerely,