UN Rights Commissioner Calls On EU To Prioritize Saving Lives Of Migrants Crossing Sea

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UN Rights Commissioner Calls on EU to Prioritize Saving Lives of Migrants Crossing Sea

MOSCOW (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 06th March, 2019) UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Wednesday urged the European Union to put greater focus on saving lives of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea, to allow non-governmental organizations' to launch rescue missions and to coordinate disembarkation.

Sam Turner, the head of the mission for Libya and Mediterranean search and rescue team of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) charity, told Sputnik on Tuesday that the European Union was prioritizing border control over saving lives of migrants in the Mediteranean Sea.

"I call on the European Union and its member states to prioritize lives and safety of migrants crossing the Mediterranean, strengthen search and rescue measures, permit NGO rescues and coordinate swift and safe disembarkation of these human beings, while at the same time tackling the root causes of this migration," Bachelet said, presenting the annual report on human rights.

Bachelet's remarks came a week after an article in the Politico outlet suggested, citing alleged leaked documents, that the EU rescue mission dubbed Operation Sophia was short on funding, staff and equipment.

EU officials purportedly admitted in internal documentation that some members of the Libyan Coast Guard funded and trained by the bloc were working with smugglers. In addition, some of the EU officials asked in a status report in 2017 to be allowed to freeze rescue missions and focus on anti-smuggling. The European Commission declined to comment on the leaked documents.

The European Union has faced an increased influx of migrants since 2015. The increased number of arrivals has caused some disagreements within the bloc. Italy, which often serves as the country of first entry, has complained of being overwhelmed. At the same time, Hungary and Poland have objected to the idea of every EU member taking in a certain number of refugees to relocate them from the country of arrival.

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