UN Security Council Reiterates Call to Intercept All Boats Carrying Refugees Fleeing Libya

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23 April 2016 – The United Nations Security Council has deplored the recent maritime tragedy in the Mediterranean Sea that resulted in up to 500 deaths when an overcrowded boat capsized en route from Libya to Europe, emphasizing the need for better coordination of efforts to deal with the smuggling of migrants.

In a press statement, the members of the Council expressed “grave concern” at the proliferation of, and endangerment of lives by, the smuggling of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea, including off the coast of Libya.

“The members of the Security Council expressed their concern at the implications for regional stability posed by transnational organized crime and illicit activities such as human trafficking and the smuggling of migrants and condemned and deplored the said acts which undermine further the process of stabilization of Libya and endanger the lives of people,” the statement said.

Extending its “deepest condolences” to all those affected by the tragedy, the Council underlined the need bring the perpetrators of the acts to justice.

The Council also called for the full implementation of resolution 2240 (2015), which is intended to disrupt the organized criminal enterprises engaged in migrant smuggling and prevent the loss of life.

Expressing its strong support to countries in the region affected by the smuggling of migrants, the Council emphasized the need to improve coordination of efforts in order to strengthen an effective multilateral response to this common challenge, and in order to protect vulnerable migrants from being victimized by human traffickers.

The Council also urged all Member States, including countries of origin, destination and transit, to cooperate with one another and with relevant international and regional organizations, including the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in addressing illicit migration flows, and dismantling smuggling networks in the region.

In addition, the Council reemphasized that migrants, including asylum-seekers and regardless of their migration status, should be treated with humanity and dignity and that their rights should be fully respected.

In this regard, the Council urged all States to comply with their obligations under international law, including international human rights law, international humanitarian law, and refugee law.

Earlier this week, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that as many as 500 people had lost their lives when an overcrowded boat carrying refugees and migrants sank in the Mediterranean Sea at an unknown location between Libya and Italy.

The 41 survivors of the incident – which could be one of the worst involving refugees and migrants in the past 12 months – include 37 men, 3 women and a 3-year-old child who were rescued by a merchant ship and taken to Kalamata, in the Peloponnese peninsula of Greece, on 16 April, UNHCR said.

Those rescued include 23 Somalis, 11 Ethiopians, 6 Egyptians and a Sudanese.

The survivors told UNHCR staff that they had been part of a group of between 100 and 200 people who departed last week from a locality near Tobruk in Libya on a 30-metre-long boat.