Posted by: africanpressorganization | 29 September 2014

Europe can stop deaths and suffering and regain control of its borders, says UN human rights expert


Europe can stop deaths and suffering and regain control of its borders, says UN human rights expert


GENEVA, Switzerland, September 29, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Attempts at ‘sealing’ borders and preventing at any cost irregular migrants from entering the European Union will continue to fail, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau, has warned today.


The UN estimates that more than 130,000 migrants and asylum seekers have arrived in Europe by sea so far this year, compared with 80,000 last year. It is also estimated that over 800 people have died in the Mediterranean so far this year.


Despite good initiatives like the increase in search and rescue operations which have saved many lives, the emphasis remains on restricting the entry of migrants rather than on creating new legal channels for migration.


“Sealing international borders is impossible, and migrants will continue arriving despite all efforts to stop them, at a terrible cost in lives and suffering,” the human rights expert warned in an Open Letter* made public today, ahead of a key hearing of the European Parliament’s Committee on Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, on 30 September, to confirm the appointment of a new European Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs.


“If Europe is to witness a significant reduction of human suffering at borders, it must bank not on strict closure, but on regulated openness and mobility,” Mr. Crépeau stressed, otherwise “the number of migrants risking their lives on unseaworthy vessels over perilous sea routes can only increase.”


The UN Special Rapporteur cautioned that the absence of regulated open migration channels for much needed low-wage migrants in several economic sectors (agriculture, construction, hospitality, to name a few) drives migration further underground, increases the precariousness of their situation, and entrenches smuggling mafias and exploitative employers, resulting in more deaths at sea and more human rights violations.


“It is paradoxical that, in the name of securing borders, European States are actually losing control over their borders, as mafias will often be ahead of that game. Moreover, the increasing number of persons fleeing from conflict, violence and oppression requires a new and concerted strategic approach by European States towards asylum seekers,” he said.


“While it needs to continue attempting to bring unscrupulous smugglers to trial for the suffering they inflict on migrants and asylum seekers, Europe will find it difficult to defeat resourceful and adaptable mafias unless one destroys their business model, which was created when barriers were erected and which thrives at evading restrictive migration policies of many EU Member States,” the human rights expert emphasized.


Mr. Crépeau also called for more concerted efforts by EU Member States to assist frontline countries such as Italy, Malta, Greece and Spain. “The search and rescue programmes cannot be the sole responsibility of the frontline countries,” he noted.


In 2012, the Special Rapporteur undertook a one-year comprehensive study to examine the rights of migrants in the Euro-Mediterranean region, focusing in particular on the management of the external borders of the European Union. Starting with a visit to the EU authorities in Brussels, Mr. Crépeau also visited Turkey, Tunisia, Greece and Italy. (His reports can be found at:


(*) Read the Open Letter to the EU’s Committee on Fundamental Rights and Freedoms:



United Nations – Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)


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