Amnesty International report to detail causes and consequences of perilous sea crossings to EU

(Brussels 24 September) Next Tuesday, on 30 September, Amnesty International will launch a new report, Lives adrift: Refugees and migrants in peril in the central Mediterranean, in Brussels. The report will examine the plight of migrants and refugees who risk their lives making the journey from North Africa across the Mediterranean to the European Union (EU) in search of safety and sanctuary. It will explore the causes and consequences of these horrific journeys on un-seaworthy vessels. And EU and member states’ responsibilities and responses regarding international maritime law, and human rights and refugee law obligations. The report comes as Europe prepares to mark the one year anniversaries of the 3 and11 October 2013 shipwrecks off the Italian island of Lampedusa, which collectively took the lives of over 500 people. 

Following extensive research over the course of 12 months, which included first-hand interviews with survivors, Amnesty International has documented some of the terrifying Mediterranean crossings undertaken by people fleeing conflict, persecution and poverty in, for example, Syria, Eritrea and sub-Saharan countries. Researchers interviewed survivors in reception centres in Sicily and Malta (including in Maltese prisons). And observed search and rescue operations on board an Italian Navy vessel, witnessing the fear and anguish of those saved from the sea. Interviews with survivors, relevant authorities, including coastguards, and experts also threw the spotlight on the political question of where search and rescue responsibilities lie, and the impact of this question on desperate men, women and children at sea.

Amnesty International's Europe and Central Asia Programme Director, John Dalhuisen, researcher and author Elisa De Pieri, and campaigner and co-author, Matteo de Bellis will launch the report at a press briefing at 11.00 am in the European Parliament’s ASP building, room A5G315, and will be available for interview throughout the day. English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, and Dutch speaking spokespeople will be on hand for interview. Amnesty International can also assist in arranging interviews with survivors of the boat crossings interviewed for the report.

The panel will also highlight concrete measures that the EU (including the new EP and future Commission) and member states can and must urgently implement as the waters off Europe turn into a graveyard of nameless people. In 2014 alone, over 2,500 people have lost their lives at sea. Now more than ever is the time for the EU and its member states to act. And finally put people before borders.

To confirm your attendance at the press briefing and/or to arrange an interview, or for further information, please contact:

Maeve Patterson
Media & Communications
Amnesty International European Institutions Office
Email: [email protected]
Telephone: +32 (0)2 548 27 73
Mobile: +32 (0)483 680 812