13 May 2015
The head of the British Red Cross has welcomed discussions to resolve the migration crisis in the Mediterranean, but has warned that piecemeal measures will not be the answer.
European leaders have today unveiled plans aimed at resolving the crisis, which include a quota system for distributing migrants across Europe.
More than 5,000 migrants are believed to have died attempting to reach Europe via the Mediterranean in the last 18 months.
“The crisis must be seen for what it is – a humanitarian disaster that is causing acute suffering and loss of life,” said Mike Adamson, chief executive of the British Red Cross.
“Whatever the ins and outs of any particular proposal – and the quota suggestion is just one being discussed – the Red Cross welcomes the fact that countries are discussing new measures to make the journey to asylum safer for those most in need.”
No easy solution
This week, 20 European Red Cross national societies joined together to call for a collective response to the crisis.
Italy, Greece and Malta are currently shouldering the responsibility of looking after migrants who make it across the Mediterranean.
“The solutions will not be easy to find, but a productive debate is definitely needed if we are to develop a comprehensive Europe-wide strategy to address the whole migrant journey from start to finish,” said Adamson.
“That includes the terrible pressures that force mass migration in the first place. Piecemeal measures will not solve this complex crisis.”
There have been discussions among politicians and the media around sending migrants back to their country of origin.
“Tragically we cannot ignore the fact that many of the migrants are refugees literally fleeing for their lives from conflict, political instability, oppression or poverty,” he said.
“Being returned back to life-threatening situations is not an option. Under international law, most critically the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, national governments have obligations to meet.
“We cannot turn away refugees, nor would we ever want to. We must find humane and effective ways of managing this crisis as an international community.”