100,000 SEA ARRIVALS TO ITALY IN 2014 Over 50% of them are fleeing war, violence and persecution: it is necessary to provide alternatives to the perilous sea crossings

Pubblicato il 14 agosto 2014 alle 8:00

The number of people who have arrived to Italy by sea since the beginning of 2014 has reached 100,000 today. Over 50% of the persons arriving are fleeing war, violence and persecution. Most of them are from Eritrea (29%) and Syria (18%) and often continue their journey towards other European countries.

UNHCR praises all efforts made by the Italian authorities in carrying out rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea that contributed to save thousands of lives.

Despite these massive efforts, 1,565 people have died or have gone missing while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea towards Europe, of which 1,300 since the beginning of June.

These numbers highlight once more the need to offer concrete solutions in order to prevent refugees from undertaking these dangerous sea crossings in the first place. UNHCR therefore urges EU Member States to increase their efforts to provide legal alternatives, including resettlement, admission based on humanitarian needs, admission schemes based on private sponsorship, facilitated access to family reunification and the use of programmes such as student or employment visas, to ensure that people fleeing are not forced to entrust their lives to smugglers.

UNHCR also urges European states to provide additional and better facilities to receive those rescued, and to identify longer-term solutions for refugees and stands ready to work with governments to identify durable solutions to address the current situation.

Despite the growing number of people arriving by sea and in need of international protection, it is important to highlight that 86% of refugees remain in developing countries. The number of Eritrean refugees has doubled in recent years due to the continuing violations of human rights in the country. Most of them reside in Sudan (110,000) and Ethiopia (84,000), while 20% (65,000) found protection in Europe. Regarding Syria, 2.9 million people were forced to flee and found protection in neighbouring countries (Lebanon 1.1 million, 610,000 Jordan, Turkey 823,000, Iraq 218,000 and Egypt 138,000), while 123,000 are in Europe.