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© Frederic NOY /UNCHR. Dilapidated boats in Lampedusa.

A global call for signatures to the ‘Civil society Recommendations on Protection at Sea” was issued today under the initiative of the NGO Committe on Migration in New York and supported by ICMC and the Civil Society Migration and Development Network (MADE).

The topic of protection for migrants in distress has always been high on civil society agenda during the Global Forum for Migration and Development Civil Society Days (GFMD CSD) since 2010 and was included as part of Civil Society’s 5 Year 8 Point Plan, specifically under points 3 and 4. Since 2013, when the plan was drafted under the framework of the High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development,  the topic has gained growing amounts of attention from the international community.

The current humanitarian crisis ensuing as a result of conflict in the MENA region is driving individuals seeking protection to undertake perilous journeys across the Mediterranean, with tragic consequences involving the loss of many  lives. In other regions of the world, many individuals and families fleeing poverty and violence are taking the risk of making perilous journeys by sea. The need for a clear multi stakeholder framework to protect human lives whilst en route is more pressing than ever. Civil society’s letter concentrates on seven clear points to improve protection of asylum seekers and migrants travelling by sea routes.

The ‘Civil Society recommendations on Protection at Sea’ calls for:

  1. A clear needs-first approach to the challenge of protection at sea
  2. Scaling up multi-actor frameworks of protection on a needs-first basis that meaningfully engage civil society competencies and partnership
  3. Establishing a protocol based on a needs-first principle to protect particularly vulnerable migrants and refugees, e.g., women and children established
  4. Ensuring fair and competent responsibility-sharing and regional cooperation among coastal and non-coastal States of tasks and costs involved in SAR, relocation and resettlement procedures
  5. Addressing “route causes” and “root causes” of forced and dangerous migration
  6. Ensuring that border management is firmly based on human rights principles
  7. Empowerment of migrants and refugees

The letter will be delivered to the international community during the UNCHR Seventh High Commissioner’s Dialogue on Protection Challenges, devoted this year to the theme of ‘Protection at Sea’, in Geneva on December 10-11 . The Dialogue will review the two-year Global Initiative on Protection at Sea, aimed at supporting State action to limit loss of life at sea as well as exploitation, abuse and violence. The Global Initiative also seeks to ensure that responses to irregular ‘mixed migration’ by sea are sensitive to the international protection needs of specific individuals and groups.

The call for signatures closed on Monday December 8. Click here for a full overview of signatories.

Photo credit: © Frederic NOY / UNHCR