Human Rights chief calls for greater action to end migrant trafficking

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Italian coastguard vessels arrive at Lampedusa Island after rescuing people on the Mediterranean. (January 2012) Photo: UNHCR/F. Noy

The UN Human Rights High Commissioner is urging authorities in Eritrea and Somalia to renew efforts to end the smuggling and trafficking of persons in those countries.

This comes in the wake of Thursday's boat tragedy off the Italian island of Lampedusa in which more than 100 migrants died, most of them Eritreans.

Rupert Colville, spokesperson at the UN Human Rights Office in Geneva, says they're concerned about the increasing rates of smuggling and trafficking of migrants and refugees in the Mediterranean and elsewhere.

"This indicates the desperation of people living in areas of Somalia, particularly in the Gulf of Aden but also crossing the Mediterranean at times, and in Eritrea. These are in areas stricken by insecurity and conflict as well as the lack of enjoyment of basic economic, social and cultural rights. It's critical that the international community engages further in improving the human rights situation on the ground, so as to address the root causes and create sufficient improvement so that people won't feel the need to put their lives at risk by undertaking such dangerous journeys." (33")

The UN Human Rights office is also asking Italy and the international community, especially the European Union, to strengthen efforts to prevent a repeat of the tragedy.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1’19″

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