AEGEE-Europe is deeply concerned about the recent reports at the European borders. On June 14, 2023, a fishing boat that departed Libya and was carrying hundreds of migrants sank near the coast of Greece. This tragedy, which resulted in the death of almost everyone on board, happened in a context where both FRONTEX, the EU’s border control agency, and the Greek authorities made no rescue attempts (International Rescue Committee, 2023). More recently, another tragedy occured on August 3, and to this date, only 4 survivors were rescued by a merchant vessel near Lampedusa, while 41 people are still missing (United Nations, 2023).
According to the International Organization for Migration (2023), approximately 27.600 people have lost their lives or are reported missing in the Mediterranean region since 2014, with almost 2.000 people in 2023. Drowning, violence, and lack of access to adequate health assistance or to food, water and shelter are listed among the main causes of death. Unfortunately, in 2023, there are still many unnecessary barriers for those seeking safety at the European continent’s borders. These include the erosion of the right to asylum, systemic pushbacks and mass deportations, police brutality, a slow response in the EU’s action on search and rescue missions, the criminalisation of solidarity in Europe and an increase in smuggling and human trafficking (Human Rights Watch, 2021). Once they reach the European continent, migrants held in overcrowded camps often experience inadequate living conditions and the lack of access to basic services such as health or legal assistance is heavily restricted.
The Social Equity and Political Activism Working Groups of AEGEE-Europe organised this month an online campaign to raise awareness about the human rights violations and consequences of the European migratory laws and the migration business. They emphasised the urgent need for change in addressing such violations and the importance of standing as allies against discrimination based on place of origin.
Over the last three years, AEGEE engaged in advocacy efforts and raising-awareness activities with relevant stakeholders to contribute to achieving meaningful change and address discrimination based on place of origin. Therefore, we urge authorities involved at the borders of Europe to take immediate action against the abuse and human rights violations in border control operations.
We condemn the violent pushbacks, lack of response to distress calls, and the inhumane treatment and human rights violations conducted by national and European authorities at the border and in refugee camps.
We call upon the European governments to take full responsibility for aiding migrants on the European continent, participate in search and rescue missions and fulfil their obligations under the EU and international law.
We call upon the European countries and EU institutions to provide a concrete accountability system and put in place measures that would ensure transparency and effective investigations into search and rescue missions.
We condemn the increasing criminalisation of solidarity and we urge the European countries to eliminate the laws that criminalise those offering humanitarian assistance to migrants and refugees on their journey across Europe.