Dismantle trafficking network thriving on desperate Migrants, IOM,UNHCR urge govts.
Aug. 7, 2020- The International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) are urging governments to step up efforts in dismantling smuggling and trafficking networks thriving off desperate migrants and refugees.
The IOM and UNHCR made the call in a joint statement on Thursday as they mourn the tragic death of 27 people off the West African coast.
The UN agencies said states can achieve this through increased cooperation to identify, prosecute and sanction those responsible for the smuggling and trafficking.
This they recommended should go hand in hand with increased safe and legal pathways to asylum and migration to provide credible alternatives to dangerous sea crossings.
According to the IOM and UNHCR, the recent incident which led to the death of 27 migrants occurred between the Mauritanian city of Nouadhibou and Dakhla, Western Sahara.
A lone survivor has been brought to the city of Nouadhibou following a rescue operation by the Mauritanian coastguard on Thursday, they disclosed.
IOM, UNHCR and partners are providing humanitarian assistance such as medical and psychological support, they stated.
The UN agencies said the boat was understood to have left Dakhla, Western Sahara, some days ago and was heading for the Canary Islands before having engine trouble.
Those on board were left stranded at sea and began suffering from extreme dehydration. The passengers were mostly from sub-Saharan Africa and included Guineans.
Laura Lungarotti, IOM Mauritania Chief of Mission said “Despite COVID 19 mobility restrictions, migrants are still compelled to undertake risky journeys.
“While we continue to provide humanitarian assistance hand in hand with the Government of Mauritania and civil society, the need for predictable rescue and assistance procedures remains.
“This is all the more important whilst public health measures are still in place,” Lungarotti said.
Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR Special Envoy for the Central Mediterranean said the deaths on the Mediterranean are preventable and avoidable.
"We must take action to target the smugglers and traffickers who offer false promises to migrants and refugees of safe passage to Europe.
“At the same time, we need to offer effective protection and services to people in countries of asylum and transit to strengthen their socio-economic inclusion.
“And integration with host communities so they don’t feel the desperation that drives them to risk their lives on these desperate journeys,”Cochetel said.