48 hours left to lift death sentence facing refugees in the Med

Last updated April 21, 2015Press release

Ahead of Thursday’s leaders’ summit on the continuing crisis in the Mediterranean, Refugee Action urges Europe’s leaders including Prime Minister David Cameron to rediscover their humanity and prioritise saving lives.

Following the 10 point plan published yesterday by the European Joint Foreign and Home Affairs Council, the charity warns that this crisis can only be resolved by a comprehensive European wide approach to the crisis, which includes more safe and legal channels for people in urgent need of refuge.

Stephen Hale OBE, Chief Executive, Refugee Action said:

“Tragically 800 people searching for safety recently drowned in a single day in the Mediterranean. This is more than the 787 refugees resettled in the UK in the whole of 2014.”

David Cameron and other European leaders must lift the death sentence imposed by the abolition of the search and rescue, and put in place measures to help people reach safety in Europe.

“These human beings are fleeing war, conflict and human rights atrocities, forced to risk their lives in search of safety. This can’t be ignored any longer. We urgently need alternative ways for people to reach Europe. We want to see the UK playing its part by offering more resettlement places to people fleeing war zones around the world.”

Refugee Action recently supported Syamend, a young man from Syria who took the treacherous journey across the Med having been forced to flee his home in war-torn Syria.

“I left the refugee camp with about twenty other people, including children as young as five, and we tried to get to Greece in an inflatable dinghy”, Syamend explains. “The dinghy capsized not far from the coast of a Greek island, but luckily we were rescued by coast guards. Later, I found out that other Syrians I’d met, including whole families, drowned attempting to reach Greece via the same route.”

One of the lucky ones, Syamend was able to reach the UK where he was granted asylum. With Refugee Action’s support he is now starting to rebuild his life. Syamend adds: “All I want is to be a normal human being with a job and to be reunited with my family.”

Refugee Action was one 19 leading charities to sign an open letter to the Prime Minister calling for more to be done to help people reach safety in Europe.’ Read the full letter here.

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