Take "decisive action" on Mediterranean migration route, UN urges

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A group of refugees travelling in an inflatable raft across the Mediterranean Sea. Photo: UNHCR/A. McConnell

European leaders are being urged to take "decisive action" to protect migrants and refugees travelling along the so-called central Mediterranean route.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and Migration Agency (IOM) issued a statement on Thursday, saying that countries of the European Union needed to engage with the crisis beyond their own borders.

Ana Carmo reports.

Due to political instability and conflict, Libya has become the main route to Europe for thousands of refugees and migrants seeking to reach European countries across the Mediterranean.

Ahead of an informal meeting of the European Council in Malta on Friday, UNHCR and IOM said that EU countries were obliged to help find solutions for people in need, who see crossing from the Libyan coast as their best chance of survival.

The agencies called for "concerted efforts to ensure that sustainable migration and asylum systems" are put in place in Libya and neighbouring countries.

They urged a move away from migration management based on detention of refugees in "inhumane conditions" towards better reception services in countries such as Italy and Greece.

IOM reported that 250 people had died already this year trying to cross the Mediterranean, mostly using the route from Libya.

"Open reception centres should offer safe and dignified conditions" said UNHCR and IOM, "including for children and victims of trafficking."

Ana Carmo, United Nations.

Duration: 1’01″

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