August 6, 2021

IOM’s Director General Swing Praises Spain for Bringing 600+ Migrants to Safety

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IOM, the UN Migration Agency praises Spain’s action bringing over six hundred migrants stranded on Mediterranean rescue ships to safety.

Spanish medical staff carried out preliminary health checks on the migrants at Valencia’s port. Photo: Alberto Saiz/Associated Press

“I’m glad Spain has stepped forward to defuse this crisis, but I fear a major tragedy if states start refusing to accept rescued migrants as was threatened,” said IOM’s Director General William Lacy Swing. “Keeping the rescued people at sea is not, of itself, going to dissuade other migrants from crossing to Europe and they too will need to be rescued sooner or later,” he added.

IOM believes that all EU Member States need to do more to support front-line states and welcomed the Spanish initiative to bring the migrants to safety. Mr. Swing emphasized Monday that the total numbers of irregular migrant arrivals have fallen dramatically from their peak during a 12-month period in 2015 and 2016, when over one million men, women and children crossed the Mediterranean bound for Greece, Italy and Spain.  “This is a political crisis, not a migrant crisis,” Director general Swing added.

“Stopping one boat or more in the Mediterranean Sea is not an answer to Europe’s migration challenges,” Director General Swing explained. “A comprehensive approach to migration governance is needed, combining opportunities for safe and orderly movement, humane border management and countering migrant smuggling and trafficking.”

IOM urges the EU to re-consider a revision of the Dublin regulation based on the European Parliament’s proposal, and to reach agreement in Council to ensure solidarity among member states fully respecting the provisions of the Treaties.

“The best way forward is for the EU to reach a common response and shared governance of the migration flows,” explained Eugenio Ambrosi, Director of IOM’s regional office for the EU.  “Fair distribution of migrants via a coordinated, humane and shared EU response from all European countries – not just those of the Mediterranean – is the only solution which saves lives, upholds rights and preserves European unity,” he added.

“Saving lives should always be our top concern. We must urgently find a means to help these rescued migrants and work for a comprehensive method of supporting migrants and States throughout Europe,” Director General Swing concluded.

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