ROME/NEW YORK, MAY 26, 2017—As the G7 summit takes place in Taormina, Italy, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) urges G7 leaders to make a bold commitment to humane and long-term migration policies.
Amid the largest displacement crisis since World War II, an increasing number of governments are repressing, detaining, pushing back, or attempting to deter, people who are fleeing. These policies have resulted in enormous suffering for those in transit, with many encountering violence of every imaginable form, and lacking access to legal asylum or the international protection to which they are entitled.
"We witness the impact of these policies firsthand through our work in a wide range of situations, from the survivors of Syria's devastating conflict and detention centers in Libya, to the extreme level of violence on the Central American migration and refugee route," said Dr. Joanne Liu, international president of MSF. "The rising deaths at sea, the physical and administrative border walls, the abysmal reception or detention conditions and eventual forcible return should be viewed by G7 countries as a humanitarian failure on their watch."
Concrete measures must be taken to implement humane policies toward migrants and refugees: safe and legal channels to seek protection; safe and humane reception conditions in countries of destination and transit; early detection of vulnerabilities; and the implementation of a dedicated search and rescue system in the Mediterranean that seeks to save lives, not prevent arrivals to Europe.
Growing numbers of agreements have been struck between countries, which outsource migration management to third countries that are often unsafe, further endangering refugees who are entitled to protection. Among the latest examples are the deal between the European Union and Turkey and between Italy and Libya, which supports the interception of migrants at sea by the Libyan coast guard. Migrants are threatened, prevented from seeking protection, and pushed back into widespread violence, torture, and inhumane detention conditions in Libya.
On May 23, while a number of aid organizations attempted to rescue people in the central Mediterranean, Libyan coast guard personnel intimidated people aboard distressed boats, firing gunshots into the air and threatening the lives of the migrants.
"This is just one example that shows the Libyan coast guard cannot be part of the solution," said Loris De Filippi, president of MSF Italy. "Europe's strategy to externalize the management of migration entry points across the sea to Libya is nothing short of complicity with torture, abuses of human rights and condemning people to suffering or death."