The heartbreaking images of a Turkish gendarme cradling in his arms the lifeless body of a three-year old boy on a beach near a resort of Bodrum, on September 2nd, spread all around the world, arousing the concern of the international community. The young boy, whose brother and mother encountered the same bitter fate, was a Syrian migrant trying to escape, with his family, the imposed totalitarianism of the self-proclaimed “Islamic State”. According to Turkish officials, 12 people died after two boats carrying a total of 23 people, of whom he was part, capsized after setting off from the Akyarlar area of the Bodrum peninsula.
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case; it is just an example of the human tragedy that has been taking place along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. According to UNHCR, more than 300.000 refugees and migrants have used the dangerous sea route across the Mediterranean so far this year, with almost 200.000 of them landing in Greece and a further 110.000 in Italy. The vast majority (69%) come from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia, fleeing conflict in their countries.
On August 25th, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau, called on the European Union to establish a human rights-based, coherent and comprehensive migration policy in order to reclaim its borders, effectively combat smuggling and empower migrants. “Territorial sovereignty is about controlling the border (…). Democratic borders are porous by nature. Providing migrants and asylum seekers with legal and safe mobility solutions will ensure such a control.” – He underscored.
In order to provide concerted, comprehensive responses to migration issues, the Geneva Centre calls upon Mediterranean, mainly European, governments to expand safe channels of migration, ensure the protection of migrants, and engage in cooperation with International and Regional Organizations to assist displaced people in their country of origin. The Geneva Centre also recommends paying special attention to the situation of children, who are the most vulnerable segment of the population and represent, therefore, the main victims. In this context, it is also essential to tone down the political discourse in Europe, which has been catalysing anti-migrant sentiments as well as the use of an inappropriate language.