3 January 2019

Africa: Uncertainty Over Migrants Still Stranded At Sea

Tripoli — THE future of 49 refugees and migrants stranded on the Mediterranean Sea looks dire amid expectations of rough weather and their vessels likely to deteriorate.

Two ships are carrying the rescued people, who include children, whom most European countries are refusing to accommodate.

Some 32 people have been on board the Sea Watch 3 vessel since December 22, while a further 17 were rescued by Sea Eye on December 29.

Vincent Cochetel, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) special envoy for the Central Mediterranean, called for decisive leadership is required, in line with fundamental values of humanity and compassion, to offer safe disembarkation and bring the migrants and refugees safely to land.

"Negotiations on which states will subsequently receive them must come only after they are safely ashore," Cochetel said.

UNHCR commended the work of non-governmental search and rescue vessels for their critical role towards preventing the death toll from being far higher than the 2 240 people who either died or went missing at in 2018 while attempting to reach Europe via the Mediterranean.

UNHCR believes in 2019, there is a critical need to end the current boat-by-boat approach, and for states to implement a regional arrangement that provides shipmasters with clarity and predictability on where to disembark rescued refugees and migrants.

Most of these individuals use Libya as a gateway to Europe.

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