UN welcomes EU measures on migrants

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UN welcomes EU measures on migrants

UN welcomes EU measures on migrants

(Geneva) – The United Nations refugee agency welcomed the European Union’s (EU) mobilisation of resources in response to the ongoing migrant crisis in the Mediterranean, while also urging increased efforts aimed at saving lives and integrating asylum seekers in accordance with human rights.
Briefing reporters in Geneva, Adrian Edwards, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), applauded the EU’s tripling of funding for joint sea rescue operations following the maritime tragedy that claimed the lives of hundreds of migrants late last week.
“We appreciated the assurance given at the [Brussels] summit press conference [on Thursday] that this will mean an operation with similar capacity, resources, and scope to the Mare Nostrum operation,” Mr. Edwards said, referring to the Italian sea rescue operation begun in 2013 and which concluded last year.
“We look forward to working closely with the EU and its Member States in building on some of the measures that have been announced.”
Italy’s ‘Mare Nostrum,’ a major search and rescue programme aimed at saving migrants in the Mediterranean, was replaced in December by the European Union’s current ‘Triton’ operation amid an uptick in sea crossings in the region. Under ‘Mare Nostrum,’ 150,000 migrants were reportedly saved before it transitioned into its “less effective” substitute, according to UNHCR.
Meanwhile, 2015 has already seen some 40,000 people make crossings to Italy and Greece – the first and second largest countries of arrival respectively. UNHCR has reported that numbers have also been recently picking up as weather conditions in the Mediterranean improve.
(Courtesy WAM)