The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is deeply concerned by the news that on Monday, 13 April, a boat capsized about 120 kilometres south of Lampedusa Island. So far around 140 people have been rescued, but 400 others are still believed missing. If the number is confirmed, this would represent the worst single refugee catastrophe in the Mediterranean since October 2013, when 366 migrants drowned off the same island.
The Italian Red Cross is on alert every day on the shores of Sicily, Calabria and Apulia with over 100 volunteers and staff, ambulances, vehicles and tents, providing first aid, food, water, and organising transportation to nearby hospitals. Yesterday, in Calabria alone, the Society provided assistance to 110 migrants. Earlier this week in Reggio Calabria it provided support to 677 migrants from Eritrea and Somalia, and also distributed food and water.
Since the beginning of the year, over 31,500 people have made crossings to Italy and Greece – the most frequent destinations for migrants from North Africa and the Middle East – taking the Mediterranean Sea route.It is anticipated that these numbers will increase rapidly as weather conditions in the Mediterranean improve.
The risks and challenges migrants face are tremendous, including losing contact with family members, exploitation, abuse and violence. Migrants travelling by sea account for the highest number of deaths among smuggled migrants.
The Red Cross Red Crescent is reaffirming its call for harmonized, more humane and accessible European Union (EU) asylum policies and legal avenues to the EU territory. Current migration and border policies produce an unacceptable level of suffering, as well as promote ideal conditions for criminal organizations. The latest tragic events demonstrate the urgent need to have vigorous search and rescue capacity in the Mediterranean Sea.
“The Italian Red Cross is in every Italian port through the services of our volunteers and staff. In 2014 we provided assistance to more than 140,000 migrants who arrived on our coasts, including an increasing number of women and unaccompanied children. Will we have record numbers this year? Just looking at the data from early April, we certainly will. In 48 hours, with adverse weather conditions, 4,000 people reached the Italian coasts. The flow is unstoppable, and we, the International Community, are failing to deliver on our commitments,” said Francesco Rocca, Vice President of the IFRC and Italian Red Cross.
“How many more people have to die before the EU acknowledges that Triton (EU member states’ concerted efforts to manage migration in the Central Mediterranean) is not enough and that it has to become a search and rescue operation?” he added.
In 2014 some 270,000 refugees and migrants crossed the Mediterranean. At least 3,500 lives were lost.
For further information, or to set up interviews, please contact:
Laura Bastianetto, Italian Red Cross spokesperson
Email: email@example.com - Mob: +39 320 7979485
Letizia D’Amato, Italian Red Cross press officer,
Mob: +39 333 6046146
Benoit Carpentier, team leader, public communications, IFRC
Mobile : +41 79 2132413 - E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org