© Jesper Guhle
© Jesper Guhle

DRC warns further deaths at sea if protection measures not improved

The Danish Refugee Council has warned of further deaths at sea if alternative safe and legal routes to Europe are not identified and other protection measures are being put into place, following the deaths of at least 700 people in the Mediterranean Sea this week.


“It is a mark on the international community that people are continuing to die as they attempt to search for a safe and better life,” said Danish Refugee Council (DRC) Middle East and North Africa Director, Peter Klansoe. “This week’s tragic accidents off the coast of Libya demonstrate yet again the need for improved rescue capacity in the Mediterranean, and for the European Union and Member States among other things to approve alternative safe and legal routes to Europe.”

At least 700 migrants may have died at sea this past week in the busiest week of migrant crossing from Libya to Italy this year, according to United Nation's Refugee agency, UNHCR. Around 14,000 people have been rescued since Monday, with at least three confirmed cases of boats sinking. Accurate numbers are unknown, with figures estimated from survivor testimonies.

This week’s arrivals included Eritreans, Sudanese, Nigerians and many other West Africans fleeing war, oppression and poverty.

“Our response to the situation is fundamentally a test of our humanity,” said Mr Klansoe. “Not only do we need to work together to provide protection to people in their search for dignified life, but improve support to the countries of origin so people aren’t seeing Europe and the risky journey to it, as the only alternative for a safe life they have.”

Since the beginning of the year, more than 200,000 migrants and asylum seekers arrived in Europe by sea, with 2,325 deaths reported.