Last Updated: Friday, 27 May 2016, 08:27 GMT

Appeal: A flotilla to stop deaths in the Mediterranean

Publisher International Federation for Human Rights
Publication Date 29 July 2011
Cite as International Federation for Human Rights, Appeal: A flotilla to stop deaths in the Mediterranean, 29 July 2011, available at: [accessed 27 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Hundreds of thousands of people have fled Libya since the crisis began in February 2011. As of June 14, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), one million refugees had left the country; more than 500,000 heading to Tunisia, more than 300,000 to Egypt and 70,000 to Niger.

Every day, refugees arrive in Tunisia in already overpopulated camps.[1] The majority are nationals from Sub-Saharan African countries where conflict is ongoing (Somalia, Sudan, Eritrea, Ivory Coast...) and it is therefore impossible to repatriate them; as time goes on, their living conditions are becoming more and more difficult, while the risk that the country hosting them may end up being destabilised, is growing.

These refugees are caught in a vice: Gaddafi's regime is using the migration issue as a weapon by forcing thousands of people to embark on makeshift vessels; at the same time, many Africans are accused of being mercenaries in the pay of Tripoli and fall prey to armed men in the zones now under the control of the NTC (National Transitional Council)[2]. Meanwhile, the states participating in the coalition forces don't seem to establish a single link between their military intervention and those forced into exile. The European Union still hasn't taken any initiative to host these people[3] or to save those endangered at sea. On the contrary, the EU is reinforcing border surveillance through the deployment of the Frontex agency in the Mediterranean while vessels of the coalition forces do not provide assistance to boat-people. The UNHCR estimates that more than 2,000 people are missing at sea since February.

Numerous organisations are now pressuring the European authorities so that refugees can enter the European Union, for support to be provided to the countries where refugees are forced to stay, and so that measures are taken to stop deaths in the Mediterranean. To no avail.

The lack of hospitality within European policy has reached such an appalling level that it is our duty to act and to show the possibility of a Euro-Mediterranean area based on solidarity and respect for human rights.

Following a meeting in Cecina (Italy), a coalition of Euro-Mediterranean migrants' rights organisations, decided to charter a flotilla which will undertake maritime surveillance so that assistance is finally provided to people in danger. The participatory organisations call on European bodies and governments on both sides of the Mediterranean to establish relations within this common area on the basis of exchange and reciprocity.

This flotilla will embark political figures, journalists, artists, and representatives of the organisations involved in the project.

Such an ambitious operation will not be meaningful unless it achieves large scale mobilisation.



[2] See the FIDH report "Double tragedy for Sub-Saharan Africans »

[3] The situation in the refugee camps located in the South of Tunisia may strongly destabilise the country, see the joint report of the Gadem and the Cimade – in French – (2011) « Défis aux frontières de la Tunisie », 50 p. and Human Rights Watch's releases (

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