Lampedusa: Urgent action needed to stop ongoing tragedy

News and Press Release
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12 May 2014 –The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is deeply concerned by the news that a boat carrying hundreds of migrants has capsized south of the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa, with several fatalities reported and many still believed missing. This tragedy follows yet another boat disaster off Libya just a day before, with dozens of migrants reported dead.

Last year in October, over 360 people from Eritrea drowned in a shipwreck close to the coast of Lampedusa and later, 200 people who were mostly from Syria, died trying to cross the sea. At least 30,000 migrants have arrived on the coast of Italy since the beginning of 2014.

The IFRC reiterates its call to European governments and institutions for concrete action to immediately ensure adequate safeguards to protect the dignity and safety of all migrants. We also call upon governments, in line with such relevant international law and national legislation, to grant to migrants appropriate international protection and to ensure their access to urgent humanitarian services, such as health care, shelter or assistance to make contact with their families.

We stress that there are many measures that can be taken by governments to reduce the unacceptable numbers of people dying in this most distressing way as they seek safety and a better life for their families.
We deplore the unnecessary loss of lives and will continue to express our concerns in the strongest way possible, and appeal for safe access for those who are fleeing conflict, who are in need and seeking protection.

Most of the migrants who arrived on the coast of Italy since January 2014 have received essential support from the Italian Red Cross since January 2014. They have focused on providing humanitarian assistance to migrants who arrive by sea to the southern border of Italy, as part of the Praesidium Project, which is also includes the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and Save the Children.

For further information, please contact:

In Rome:

•Tommaso Della Longa, spokesperson, Italian Red Cross
Mob: +39 320 79 79 485; e-mail: In Budapest:

•Lasse Norgaard, communication coordinator, IFRC
Mob: +36 70 953 7704; e-mail: In Geneva:

•Benoit Matsha-Carpentier, Senior Communication Officer, IFRC
Mobile: +41 79 213 24 13 Email:

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest volunteer-based humanitarian network, reaching 150 mil­lion people each year through its 189 member National Societies. Together, the IFRC acts before, during and after disasters and health emergencies to meet the needs and improve the lives of vulnerable people. It does so with impartiality as to nationality, race, gender, religious beliefs, class and political opinions. For more information, please visit You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.