Scores Dead at Sea, Red Cross and Red Crescent Assists Survivors

Geneva, 27 May 2016

While scores are dying at sea in the dangerous Mediterranean crossing, Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers are helping survivors on both northern and southern shores. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) continues to  call for governments and institutions to ensure the protection of migrants, and for all people to recognize their right to safety and dignity.

In the past two days alone, at least 3,000 people were rescued by Italian navy and Libyan coastal guards. While thousands survived, more than 80 are feared to have died in these latest Mediterranean tragedies.

Mr Elias Ghanem, IFRC regional director for the Middle East and North Africa stated: “Thousands of people are still risking their lives every day to reach Europe. Many are dying in the attempt.”

Yesterday, Libyan Red Crescent responded to the urgent needs of more than 200 people who were rescued near the port city of Zuwarah. On arrival at the port, Red Crescent volunteers provided survivors with food, blankets and vital health and medical services. Red Crescent teams transferred survivors who required urgent medical attention to nearby hospitals.

“We urge all leaders to focus on providing safe routes for people seeking sanctuary and ensure protections for people who migrate. Local actors like Libyan Red Crescent are among the few who can help survivors of such tragedies,” added Mr Ghanem.

Despite the volatile situation in the country, Libyan Red Crescent branches continue to respond to the migration crisis along the country’s coastline as well as in other key locations throughout the country with support from the European Union (DG NEAR). Along with providing relief, psychosocial support, and medical assistance, Libyan Red Crescent teams also retrieve the bodies of people who have drowned, ensuring they are transported with respect and dignity before being buried.

As well as providing lifesaving relief, the National Society reconnects migrants with their families in their countries of origin with the support of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The International Organization for Migration (IOM) also works closely with Libyan Red Crescent to ensure those who want can safely return to their countries.

The central Mediterranean is now the main route taken by migrants aiming to reach Europe. With weather conditions set to improve, more people will risk the dangerous journey in flimsy boats. Without immediate action to protect migrants on land and at sea, the number of people killed while seeking safety, security and a better future is likely to increase.

For frequent updates on the activities of Libyan Red Crescent by visiting ifrc.org/libya or following @LibyaRC and @IFRC_MENA on Twitter.