UNHCR, IMO call for more cooperation to prevent migrant deaths at sea
The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) issued a joint statement on Thursday expressing their “deep sorrow” at the deaths of more than 20 migrants and asylum seekers in two wrecks in the Aegean Sea over the past few days.
“Every life lost is one too many. Tragic deaths at sea and further suffering are avoidable but only with concerted action and international cooperation to find viable solutions,” the UNHCR representative in Greece, Maria Clara Martin, said in the statement, as the Greek coast guard continued to search for dozens of missing passengers from the two wrecks, the first of which was off the coast of Samos on Monday and the second between Andros and Evia on Tuesday.
“To prevent the use of increasingly dangerous routes and smuggling, refugees need realistic and humane alternatives that protect their right to safety and asylum,” Martin added.
Less than a month ago, another two deadly shipwrecks off the Greek islands of Lesvos and Kythira claimed at least 28 lives.
“The need to save lives and prevent more tragedies should be a priority driving international efforts to promote safe migration pathways which can minimize the risk of migrants dying or going missing,” said Gianluca Rocco, chief of the IOM mission in Greece.