Libya: Mass drowning highlights European governments’ shameful failure to protect refugees and migrants

Responding to reports that more than 200 people may have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya, Gauri Van Gulik, Amnesty International’s Deputy Europe Director, said:

“The latest tragedy on this deadly crossing highlights the shameful failure of European governments to address the global refugee crisis. It is clear that putting up walls and fences is not deterring desperate people from trying to reach safety – it is simply putting more lives in peril and filling the pockets of smugglers.

“Refugees and migrants face horrific human rights abuses in Libya, but European governments continue to prioritize keeping them out of Europe at all costs. The recent announcement of measures to cooperate with the Libyan coastguard, which returns the people it intercepts to Libya where they can be tortured and raped and subjected to horrific conditions in detention centres, is the latest example of their hopelessly blinkered approach.

“As well as stepping up their own search and rescue measures, European leaders could help save lives at sea by offering people safe and legal routes to Europe, and by supporting measures to protect the human rights of refugees and migrants inside Libya. How high must the body count get before European governments accept that their current strategy isn’t working?”