The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated this Tuesday that by 2021, more than 10,400 migrants will have come to Italy by sea, an increase of more than 170 percent over the same period in 2020.
In a press conference from Trapani, Sicily, where the rescue ship ‘Sea Watch 4’ disembarked more than 450 people rescued in the Mediterranean on that day, UNHCR spokesman Carlotta Sami expressed the “serious concern” of the United Nations for the balance of the people who died trying to get to Europe.
According to Sami, at least 500 people have died on this dangerous journey through the Mediterranean in 2021, a figure that is significantly higher than in the same period in 2020 (150). This corresponds to an increase of more than 200 percent.
“This tragic loss of life underscores the need to restore a state-coordinated search and rescue system in the central Mediterranean,” he said.
According to the UN agency, more than 1,500 people have landed in Italy since May 1st after being rescued by the Italian Coast Guard or NGOs in the Mediterranean. Most people left Libya aboard weak and unsuitable ships and repeatedly called for help.
The UNHCR, which has praised Italy for keeping its ports open during the pandemic, has indicated that the solidarity of the member states of the European Union is “urgently needed” as the situation in Libya continues to deteriorate and, consequently, its citizens forcing oneself to undertake “desperate” measures in search of their safety.
With this in mind, Sami has focused on the fact that migrants are exposed to “indescribable violence and abuse” during their journey, and has pointed out that the statements UNHCR has gathered in recent days as the agency has landed in several Italy is present, they speak of “imprisonments and brutalities inflicted without regard to human life”.
UNHCR has also urged the international community to step up efforts to protect those who choose this route of migration and offer them alternatives to these “dangerous and desperate” journeys. Sami has listed legal avenues such as humanitarian corridors or evacuations that need to be “expanded”.
However, migration to Europe is only “the tip of the iceberg,” warned Sami. Most of the people who have fled their homes stay close to them, with more than 5.4 million refugees and internally displaced persons in the Sahel countries. According to UNHCR data, 80 percent of people who flee their homes stay in their regions of origin.