On the Recent Mediterranean Tragedy

By Joshua Miguel Makalintal (FYEG, Junge Grüne)

Amid the humanitarian tragedy that occurred this past week surrounding the deaths of 300 people who were crossing the Mediterranean, the UN Refugee Agency has urged the EU to take a more human rights-approach when dealing with the movement of migrants.

The freedom to move is a universal human right recognized by international law but global leaders have yet to take this right seriously. Indeed there is a growing need to promote responsible migration governance from a humanitarian, development and sustainable perspective.

This includes addressing the main causes of refuge by insisting on a more adequate international conflict management and providing acceptable opportunities and safer alternatives for refugees who plan to take the dangerous irregular route to the continent.

Europe may be more liberal compared to other regions when it comes to migration but it still continues to hold on to its deadly fortress, where thousands of people have died before its doors. These humanitarian catastrophes go against the very essence of the principles of the European Union. And a more united stance for the genuine recognition of human rights is needed within the Union.

According to the UN, there are currently over 52 million forcibly displaced persons worldwide. 15% of them are in the EU. Numerous reasons exist as to why people immigrate or seek refuge to another country, among them include war, political oppression, corruption and poverty. The UNHCR reported that last year, the people fleeing conflicts in Syria and Africa rose dramatically. Of the 218,000 people that crossed the Mediterranean, 3,500 died.

The casualties are appalling, and we cannot afford more. The tragedies will continue this year and in the coming years unless Europe begins to take measures in prioritizing the saving of human lives over securing borders. Europe also needs to start promoting the idea of global freedom of movement, because the right of self-determination means to freely choose one’s own place to call home. Europe should uphold solidarity and put an end to deadly border policies.

These people – refugees, asylum seekers, migrants – are simply exercising their fundamental human right to move and choose a better life on a planet where we all share. And we have a duty – as citizens of this world – to undertake an unprecedented cosmopolitan stance in upholding their rights. Because the fight for their rights is a fight for the rights of all humanity.

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