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UN report holds EU responsible for thousands of migrant deaths

Members of the Libyan Red Crescent recover the body of a drowned migrant off the coast of Tajoura, east of the capital Tripoli, on 3 July 2018. [MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP via Getty Images]
Members of the Libyan Red Crescent recover the body of a drowned migrant off the coast of Tajoura, east of the capital Tripoli, on 3 July 2018. [MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP via Getty Images]

A United Nations report published yesterday holds the European Union at least partially responsible for the death of thousands of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea in recent years, Anadolu has reported. The EU is accused of obstructing rescue efforts and deliberately pushing migrants back.

Thousands of migrants try to reach Europe from Libya every year. They are generally fleeing from poverty and armed conflicts in their own countries, but face the risk of drowning or being kidnapped by pirates.

The 37-page report covers the period from January 2019 to December 2020. It was prepared by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and has been published on the organisation's website.

The report stated that the death of irregular migrants in the Mediterranean has been the result of "tangible political decisions and practices" of European Union member states, the Libyan authorities and other actors. It added that the EU is partially responsible for the death of thousands of asylum seekers as a result of its failure to respond to distress calls when migrant boats sank, and its attempts to obstruct rescue efforts, as well as deliberate "pushback operations".

At least 2,239 migrants died while trying to reach Malta and Italy from Libya during the period in question. In the first four months of 2021, nearly 632 immigrants drowned, according to the UN.

The report called for urgent reforms in EU institutions and structures with regard to the migrant issue. Changes are necessary, it concluded, to maintain the safety, dignity and human rights of migrants.

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