UNHCR IOM MCC Press Conference: Report report on risks faced by refugees and migrants on the Central Mediterranean route
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UNHCR IOM MCC Report on risks faced by refugees and migrants on the Central Mediterranean route

UNHCR IOM MCC Report on risks faced by refugees and migrants on the Central Mediterranean route - "On this journey, nobody cares if you live or die"

Embargoed until Friday, 5 July at 05:00 a.m.CEST


Vincent     Cochetel, UNHCR Special Envoy for the Western & Central Mediterranean     Situation
Laurence Hart, IOM Director, Coordination Office for the Mediterranean- Chief of Mission for Italy and     Malta- Representative for the Holy See Italia)
Bram Frouws, Director of the Mixed Migration Centre

Moderator: Shabia Mantoo, UNHCR

UNHCR IOM MCC Report on risks faced by refugees and migrants on the Central Mediterranean route - "On this journey, nobody cares if you live or die"

Good afternoon, everyone. And thank you for your for your patience. I'm sorry.
We're starting a few minutes late.
Um, but we'd like to welcome you to this, uh, embargoed press briefing today,
Uh, on the launch of a new UN HCR the UN refugee agency
IOM, the International Organisation for Migration
and the Mixed Migration Centre report.
Um, that is being launched. Uh, official launches tomorrow Friday, fifth of July
at five o'clock in the morning. Uh uh, Central European summer time.
So we are very honoured to bring you a panel today, uh, to discuss
the report and take out questions
we have here with me. Uh, vant
which who was UN HCRS, Uh,
special envoy for the Western and Central Mediterranean situation.
We also have, uh, Mr Lawrence Hart,
who is the director at the co ordination office for the Mediterranean for IOM.
And we also have Mr Brown
who is the director of the Mixed Migration Centre.
So we will go over to to each of our, um,
uh, our guests to tell you a bit more about the report,
uh, just to say hopefully, uh,
all of all of you who are joining us online and in person should have received, uh,
the report
and embargo as well as an advisory.
please do let us know in case you haven't received that or in case you
have any questions and would be happy to follow up with you on that.
Uh, I think that's it. So, uh, without further ado, let's go over. Maybe we start with
Vanzant, maybe. Do you want to talk to us a bit about the report?
Yes. Thank you.
Good afternoon, everyone.
Well, first of all,
I think it's important to know that it's the second iteration of that report.
We had a seminar report with the Mixed Migration Centre
four years ago.
And it includes a survey from interviews that took place between
last report in 2020. Until now on various other sources,
I have to stay when I embark into this study with the two other organisations with I
and MC,
I was fearing a bit to see what would be the finding.
I can't get you. I've been
six years on this position.
I can't get used to the type of testimonies we receive on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, the findings in that
reveal a high degree of protection risk around those
routes that lead to the central Mediterranean Sea.
But when I talk about the routes to the central Mediterranean Sea, they are not.
You need directional routes, some of them are going also to the south,
and they are not all directed towards the north of Africa.
And you were aware recently I mean a few weeks. A couple of weeks ago,
there was a discovery of 65 bodies
Raif area, which is in the southwest of Libya.
This is a testimony of
the many deaths we see on the road and that are going unreported
regardless of their status. Migrants refugees
seem to face serious human rights violations on abuse.
Along the route, we distinguish
abuse from violation using that legal terminology. Abuse is by
non state actors, whereas violation is by state authorities.
total of more than 32,000 people have been interviewed,
so it's a huge body of evidence.
You know, sometimes states are telling us Well, expulsions don't happen.
Detention is not happening, you know?
Yes, there are instances of trafficking, but not that many on the road.
You can dismiss 12345 Isolated testimonies.
You cannot dismiss
the body of evidence of having interviewed
32,000 people.
what is the main difference between this report on the first one?
Well, one of the significant difference in this report, IOM has been a partner
and brings additional data, additional tools,
their own methodology in getting the information we need it
to get.
So the sample surveyed moved from 16,000 to almost 32,000 people,
and we have a larger proportion of women being interviewed 34 per cent.
The interview took place also in different locations Burkina Faso,
Guinea, Italy, Libya, Mali, ***, Sudan, Tunisia.
They could not take place in some places where we would
have liked to have those interviews just because it's not possible.
States don't want us to interview
or we don't have access to those areas.
what we see also is that certainly
among the
methodology we have used has enabled us to geo locate
the place where the dangers
and the protection incidents seem to be the most serious ones. And again,
we have developed in the report a couple of maps
that help us to locate where the dangers are for us as a humanitarian aid agency,
it is quite critical because we need to make sure the services,
not just the services we offer directly to our partners.
But the services that are available
by the national authorities by the local authorities are
located where the risks are the most acute.
This is not to facilitate the movement of people.
It is not to encourage people to embark in dangerous journey
to find protection solution
address the abuse and the violation
they suffer.
Physical violence is the main risk reported by 38 per cent of the respondent.
It's quite interesting to see the way
some of the new risks are appearing. In this second report,
for instance, before the risk of death
was reported by 14 per cent of the respondent,
now it's by 20 per cent of the respondent.
Many people tell us that they are aware
of someone who has died on the way or normally
more on the land routes than on the sea routes.
The risk of sexual gender based violence has also increased to 15%. It was 12.5%
in the previous report, the risk of kidnapping seems to be a new one.
It used to be mentioned by 2% of the respondent four years ago.
Now it is mentioned by 18% of the respondent. Almost one out of five claim
that the journey involved that risk of kidnapping.
A new risk has emerged over the last four years is the risk of arbitrary expulsion.
We've seen waves of arbitrary expulsion from
North African countries to neighbouring countries.
we don't want to say to a country that it does
not have the right to expel or to deport someone.
It can be done,
but it needs to be done with the appropriate legal safeguards.
What we see is the rounding up of people based on criteria that are not always clear.
And those people are then dumped across the border.
Some of one country, some of several countries.
But it doesn't mean the problem is solved so again
in terms of migration and asylum management, this is not. This cannot be a response.
I think I'll leave it to other colleagues to
speak about the methodology on some of the findings.
It was also
surprising for us to see that Actually, the smugglers and the traffickers
were not necessarily the main perpetrators of violence.
From what the respondent to the survey said.
You know, we have this thinking that
they are the
they are the troublemakers on the route.
In fact, it turns out it's more criminal gangs,
so that can sometimes include traffickers.
But the perception by migrants and refugees, these are criminal gangs operating.
And it's also law enforcement authorities, non state actors
which are normally armed groups abusing of the people on the way.
I think I leave it here just that
with a dose of realism.
I have to say I'm not happy with what I'm reading because I
thought we had done better in trying to provide services along the route.
So it's a cause for not only concern, but it's a call for action by all.
We cannot lose our capacity to get
outraged by this level of violence along the route.
Some of it
can be addressed and we can't go to a risk zero.
But there has to be some better response on some parts of the routes
on better border management, which has become the,
you know, the
the the the
the shortcut that many states are using in saying that's the way to fix it.
better border management cannot be a justification for
that level of violence along the route.
It has to come with proper referral,
proper services and proper accountability for those
causing that violence along the route.
Thank you.
Thank you, Van.
So let's go over to, uh, Lawrence for some remarks.
Thank you so much. Um,
and good afternoon
from my side. First of all, I am delighted to be part of this of this I
being part of this study,
which only highlights the importance of data data collection.
But there is a flip side to this.
We are becoming addicted. We are becoming addicted to data to tragedies,
to numbers and not to the stories,
unfortunately to the violence that people experiment on their skin.
And this is a little bit the sad part because as much as we can increase the collection
of data,
there is an importance that people do not get
used to this kind of these kind of phenomenon.
Now, when it comes to obviously
to dated numbers, that might be of interest,
I would say that in 2024. We have already experienced or at least collected,
reported 870 deaths. That means five deaths per day
and this is largely
un underestimated. I'm sorry
because a lot of the challenges that we have also in data collection,
while on the northern shore of the Mediterranean
there are ways of collecting information in more systematically and more
in depth. Obviously, there are challenges when it comes to collecting data
on the other shore of the Mediterranean, let alone in the Sahel in the Sahel region.
So this leads us to say that this number obviously does
not capture the entirety of the problem of the issue of
people, victims of violence
and all the abuses that Vincent has just referred to.
The central Mediterranean continues to be
the deadliest route and
there are.
And I'm also quite surprised when in an era
where access to media to social media to information
that there is still a
very high number of people taking the risks of embarking on dangerous,
very dangerous journeys.
lot of people do not choose to move, but they are pushed
because of various situations, political conflict, instability and what not
the misinformation still subsists and we know and we experience that often times.
Smugglers and traffickers have a very
capable way of communicating and enticing migrants and
showing them how things can be easy.
The price can be low,
but then it turns out to be a nightmare. So
there is indeed a challenge towards an industry those of
smugglers and traffickers which needs to be ramped up because
is illicit economy, one of the highest illicit economies in the world,
which is then the revenues are reinvested in other illegal activities,
which creates a vicious circle.
So hence the importance of
at how we tackle
the capability of communication that smugglers
and traffickers have over their victims.
It was quite interesting how
the information at hand of many people coming
from sub Saharan Africa differ very considerably,
even if they come from the same village.
Some people are
under the impression
process of migrating irregularly is relatively easy,
at least what the smugglers and traffickers say to them.
What does the report also highlight? Implicitly and explicitly.
I think it highlights the need to
step up protection responses along the route.
This cannot be done individually by one single agency
or by two agency or by three agency.
It needs really a whole of society approach.
But obviously we are
together with the UN
agencies that are along the route,
able to synergize increasingly in order to step up these protection responses so
traditionally offers a number of services and and I don't want to
make a list of services that
offers, but it is important for you to be in the picture.
So assisted voluntary return is one of those
and voluntary humanitarian return. It is one of those tools that
offers to migrants
either who are experimenting a life risk,
but also for those people who have
realised that their migration project didn't work
and in that respect
has been active worldwide, but especially from Libya,
Tunisia and neighbouring other countries,
Algeria to step up support to assisted voluntary return and reintegration.
Also working on alternatives to detention
Alternatives to detention are crucial because migrants should
not be put into detention illegally and lawfully,
and they should be offered alternatives.
So this is something which is emerging still not systematic, but in some countries,
I think some headway is being made
trafficking is also another phenomenon which is high.
traffickers are very, very capable and smart of avoiding
controls and checks. So
agencies like I
work closely on case management
on many and the hundreds of thousands of cases of
victims of trafficking
are the two.
The two elements that I would like to highlight that the report calls for is
looking at How do we improve responses? Not just as
obviously, but as a society.
First of all,
it's important to look at how to regularise or legalise
migrants in countries of transit if there is a need,
for example, but also further AFI
when it comes. For example, in European countries
responding to the need, for example,
for talents and for manpower in countries of destination,
opening up regular channels is indeed not the silver bullet,
but certainly an enabler.
Another one.
Another element, another pillar on which migration governance hinges on. So
I'll leave it at that.
But there is obviously plenty of other
details that we can carry forward subsequently.
Thank you, Lawrence and Brown over to you.
Thank you very much.
Thank you all for joining us today and let
me also start by thanking our two partner organisations
uh for the excellent Cooper operation
four years ago. Finan
referred to this as well
when unh
presented the first edition of this report
at the launch here at
I said
This is not the first report outlining all these abuses and sadly,
I'm afraid it won't be the last.
And I also said that it should be the last
and I sincerely hope we won't sit here again in
a year's time and present another report with all these statistics
on the incredible and unacceptable levels of abuses refugees and migrants
are facing all along these routes. End of quote.
Yet here we are not one year later, but four years later
and during those four years again there have been many other reports as well,
documenting what's happening along these routes by each
of our organisations and also by other agencies.
So honestly, I really do not want to be here,
and I think we should not be here presenting yet another report presenting yet
again the unimaginable levels of violence refugees
and migrants are facing on these routes.
It is really unacceptable and as we say in the forward to this report.
This remains a stain on our collective conscience.
In the previous four,
we said this report adds to a mounting evidence base that can no longer
be ignored.
So the question is, has it been ignored
and maybe ignored is not the right word as
it certainly has not been ignored by us and by
many other organisations and many other people who are trying
to help migrants every single day along these routes.
But I think it has been ignored in the sense that it has not gotten
any better, on the contrary, possibly.
And of course it's difficult to compare
this in a fully representative and mythological,
reliable way, how the situation has changed.
But I think that's even a little bit beyond the point at this stage
when we present this report and of
course I'm representing a research organisation.
So I could talk here about the methodology and about the research and about the data
and comparing the different percentages. But in a way I really don't want to.
I want to talk about the people. This report is not about data.
Ultimately it's about people.
For a previous report, Vince mentioned it as well.
We We interviewed 16,000 people for this report. We interviewed 31,500 people,
and this report is also not about their status or the labels that we may put on them.
It's about the individual human beings.
It's men, women, fathers, mothers with family and friends behind them
on their way to find safety
on their way to find better opportunities for themselves, their families
to find freedom from whatever it is that makes
them unable to live a free life where they are
and our people, our enumerators, as
on the ground
were stationed in so many different migration hubs along these routes.
Sit down with them
every single day,
talk to them and conduct long in depth surveys
to collect all this information every single day.
And we are really grateful to all these people,
these 31,500 refugees and migrants who took time
to share their very personal experiences with us.
while they are on their way,
they face these unacceptable levels of violence or even they may lose their lives.
As Laurent said as well
just last week, and this is a route we haven't covered in this report.
But just last week we heard that 5000 people
died on the Atlantic route to the Canary Islands
In the first five months of this year.
That's an increase of 700% compared to the same period last year.
And we also know, even though we don't have fully accurate numbers,
and indeed it is an underestimation
that countless
others die on the land routes
up to the Mediterranean coast, possibly even more than at sea.
So this is really one important notion from this
new report that I would like to highlight is
that we should not forget about what's happening on
the land routes on these routes through the desert,
and we really need to increase our capacity for search and rescue
in the desert on these land routes.
Another key word coming from this report,
also mentioned already by the other panellists, is accountability.
So this report also explores who are the perpetrators of violence,
and common perpetrators are smugglers.
They are among the perpetrators, other criminal groups,
but also, as Vince
alluded to state officials like police, military
and border guards.
But whoever they are, whichever category
they should be held accountable, but at the moment
much of this is happening in a situation of near complete impunity.
So even though there has been a little bit of progress,
I would say compared to the previous report,
we have seen that a few high profile traffickers
who are operating out of Libya have been arrested.
But we need much more of that and I think we need
to stop going off to the very low level pick up drivers in
***, for example.
But we should really follow the money and catch the big guys
and the ones that are directly responsible for all this violence.
What we also need to change
is the dynamics in the current migration partnerships
that we see between Europe and third countries.
I think Europe has a lot to offer
in exchange for Cooper operation on migration management,
legal migration, pathways, access to trade markets, development,
Cooper operation
and I think in exchange it should be able to
say that adherence to the highest human rights and protection standards
is something that is non negotiable
in these partnerships.
Yet it seems that the fear of migration
across Europe sometimes
maybe stands in the way
of being able to explicitly call out what's happening along these routes,
and I think that's simply unacceptable.
we need a whole of root approach and I'm not saying whole of
root in the sense that it might sometimes be understood by some,
which could be translated as let's stop migrants as far as possible
from Europe as possible and as early on the route as possible.
I'm saying all of root in the sense that at every step of the way
and through Cooper operation between countries between
international and local organisations at all levels,
national levels, regional levels
and importantly, also the local and city level,
we ensure that people all along these routes are able to exercise their rights.
They are protected,
they have access to assistance
and they see alternatives to onboard irregular movements
so that they are able to make a deliberate
choice, a deliberate personal choice about whether to move on or not,
finally, just to briefly bring things back to the global governance of migration.
In 2018, the Global Compact for Migration was adopted. It
includes objective seven address and reduce vulnerabilities in migration,
and it includes objective eight save lives
and I think when it comes to these mixed migration routes
across Africa towards Europe that are covered in this report,
we have to conclude that we are failing on
these objectives and that we have to do better.
I started by saying I didn't want to be here
and that we should not need another report. But apparently we do.
I think that's quite clear from this report.
And even if this report doesn't necessarily present a new picture
that is a concerning finding in and of itself
and imagine we would say Well,
you know,
we know all of this already from the previous
report from other reports let's not do another report.
I think that would mean that we're basically giving up.
It means we would accept the situation as it is. It means we would normalise it,
but we don't accept it, and we should never accept it.
And as Vincent said as well, we should never get used to it
so well again.
Repeating what I said last time,
I sincerely hope we won't be sitting here again with another report.
We will if we need to.
And meanwhile I know that people on the ground are doing every day, the best they can.
People working for our organisations and many other organisations
to provide better protection for people on the move.
But I hope that this report
will also help a little bit, not least by convincing our leaders, our politicians,
our policy makers
to help develop better policies and shape an environment
that leads to the end of this unacceptable
violence that refugees and migrants are facing.
Thank you.
Thank you, bro.
And, uh, thanks to everyone, uh,
who are who are joining us online and in person Just to remind everyone, though,
that the name of the report,
um, is on this journey. No one cares if you live or die.
And it's about abuse, protection and justice for long routes between,
um East and West Africa and Africa's Mediterranean coast
taking a root based perspective on key risks.
So we'll open up the floor for questions. Uh, if we can
perhaps just ask, uh, questions to be kept to the scope of, uh, the report,
obviously and its contents And,
uh, and the discussion here that we've heard from our panellists today.
Um and we'd also just ask that when you do ask
your question if you can just state your name and your affiliation
and, uh, and also specify which, uh, of the the panellists that you'd like to, um,
direct your question to.
So I believe we did have Jamie first, but then we'll come back. Jamie, go ahead.
I have three questions, actually. I'm sorry.
Um, the first is, um you say, uh, in the report, uh, that roughly,
that the deaths of refugees and migrants in the
desert presumed to be double those happening at sea.
Yet the figures that I saw in your report
um, say if you want to bear with me one second, I have it,
uh, you have, in total 1108 100. Sorry.
1180 persons are known to have died while crossing the Sahara Desert
for the period january 2020 to May 2024.
That's very much less than a single year even, um, on the med.
So how are you getting to that number of double
the number of deaths on on the Sahara crossing?
So please,
uh, elaborate on that.
The second point is you also mentioned some, uh, comments about genital, uh,
harvesting or mutilation or I'm sorry, What was the organ trafficking?
Could you, uh, organ removal? Could you Could you elaborate who is doing that?
And what does that involve exactly?
Is that a wide scale problem, or is that just a piece meal?
Um, and then finally,
my third question goes directly to Mr Fre because
you just raised a question that I wanted to,
uh, ask you, uh, based on the comments you just made,
um, you say, um,
I think we need to stop going after the very low level pickup drivers in ***,
for example.
But we should really follow the money and catch the big guys.
Who do you want to do that? Who will do that to go after the big guys?
And who are those big guys? Thanks.
Um, for your first question regarding, uh, deaths of the Sahara?
Um, I don't know, vansant or, um, Lawrence.
The problem is,
we cannot give you statistics on precise statistics on death on
land because there is nobody collecting the body in the desert
for everyone crossing the
Sara, you get a testimony of bodies being seen being dropped.
Either the smugglers get rid of people.
Other people fall off the truck simply
and they don't, uh, they don't pick them up.
Other people get sick on the pick up and they drop them in the desert and abandon them.
So everyone that has crossed the Sara
can tell you of people they know
who died in the desert.
you interview people in Lampedusa.
Not that many people will tell you about people they know
was died at sea. Some know of shipwrecks,
but we have better knowledge of shipwrecks
because there are people collecting the bodies
when the shipwreck is taking place close to
the close to the shore of the Mediterranean.
So that's an estimate. It's not hard data,
but it's based on personal testimonies of the people.
I know it's not satisfactory as an answer
because we would like to be able to compare the hard data we have
on the deaths at sea
with hard data we would have on deaths in the desert. We don't have that data
and you have many deaths in detention centre,
official or unofficial ones that are not accounted for
on the issue of cells of organs it's happening
in at least two countries covered by this report.
I don't want to be too
These are criminal people doing that
some time. There is some sort of concern by the person
to sell one organ,
but most of the time, just out of survival strategy to live in a
difficult environment.
Uh, but most of the time people are drugged. They,
they, they and and the organ is removed without their concern. They wake up on
on one kidney, is is missing.
And, um
so that's not a new problem. But that's a problem, uh, taking place.
Who are those people who are the traffickers? Well, there are.
There are a list of known traffickers circulating among states.
Uh, many are known
and many seem to be out of reach.
So when you discuss with State sometime, it's either the level of evidence
that they think it is not sufficient.
They don't get the Cooper operation of the states where they put their money,
so they can't get that
evidentiary chain to document
the criminal proceed from the trafficking.
They are untouchable For some reasons.
When you look at the European Union
or the United nations for the last. Since the last report,
there has been no new traffickers
put on the list of sanctioned traffickers
for any of the four situations where the U
as a
as a sanction regime along this route, which is
Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Mali.
Uh, whereas there are no new actors in terms of trafficking,
the old one have retired.
They have diversified their
their business portfolio.
They have reinvested in the legal economy, or at least the legitimate economy.
Their criminal proceed. And they have handed over that portfolio to others.
New players.
but sometimes they they just untouchable.
Yeah. Um, Brown, did you wanna first, uh, go to Jamie's comment as well
on the trafficking?
Yeah, sure. Thanks for the question. Very briefly. Uh, not too much to add to what Fin
was saying, but in terms of I mean caveat. I'm not a law enforcement expert,
but what this requires is really Cooper operation between states.
There are some good examples of the two that
I mentioned that are currently in jail in the Netherlands
resulting from a good cooper operation between Italy, the Netherlands, Interpol,
So this really requires intense international Cooper operation, of course,
with the national authorities of the countries where these people are operating.
But it's extremely difficult, of course, to get the right evidence.
It is difficult to get testimony from victims as well
and to find them.
And these are, I mean in some of these cases. These are multinational networks.
One of them was arrested in Sudan.
There has been an arrest in the United Arab Emirates,
so this requires deep and long investigations.
As Vincent said, some are known some might be not known yet, but should become
known as soon as possible
so that they can be held accountable.
Is there a follow up question? If I could just follow up on what Mr
had said,
you So you mentioned that
sometimes the people do it voluntarily, that they have their organs removed.
Are they using that for first of all? Broadly, I didn't think I heard you say a number.
Do you have a number of cases like
de Grande,
What, like what? What are the numbers of cases
and just
are people selling the organs
to pay their way to go up? Is that literally the way it works?
Or is that for some, or just to get funds?
And what percentage of are those are voluntary and which are involuntary.
don't have that level of data,
and I can't remember at the top of my mind the percentage of respondents
who were knowledgeable who were either victims or
had seen that risk of organ removal people do it normally not to pay for the
for the continuation of the journey. It's just to survive
where they are.
well, it's quite amazing. In some countries,
you know, it's widely advertised.
You have, uh, you seem to have all sorts of organs available for transplant,
and whereas in some countries it's it's really missing,
and you wonder how some countries are able to attract so much organs and others don't
don't have the same capacity.
But I'm not an expert. I'm not the one who is going to
to go deeper into that. But
so we are.
How many people?
many people are talking about hundreds more than thousands.
But there is a market for that.
Thank you. And we can go to Christian
and then Christoph
Yeah, Christian
over to you.
Hello, my name is Christiana with the German Press agency.
K, can you please name the two countries that he said were involved in this problem?
basic question is
we all see in European countries Netherlands, France, Germany.
We all see the populists and the right wing parties coming to the fore.
They use exactly the narrative that you described.
They are stoking fear of migrants, and they would also probably respond.
The more you help along the routes, the more you encourage migration.
And Mr Costello,
he said. That's not what we do.
it's not enough to just say that's not what we do. Uh, what would be a good response?
And what would be
a positive
suggestion to European governments? Beyond? You need to co operate more.
You need to find agreements. I mean a really concrete response to the people
in remote French villages who seem to be afraid of migrants or in East Germany, who
are going into the streets and say, Stop all these migrant flows. Thank you.
OK, thank you. I can share maybe the response with Lawrence on that one.
I think
we understand the concern of some communities because sometimes
you know, migration. Asylum is not properly managed
in Europe, and
it is disproportionately affecting some countries.
And within those countries, some communities there is no.
There is not always solidarity between cities.
Not all of them are exposed to the same reality on a daily basis.
So we need to rethink a bit the social contract between the state
on the municipalities,
on that issue of management of migrants and refugees in general.
That's part of the solution.
But to address your concern, you know, the sort of services we provide with I
and many other partners along the route are
basic services. It's humanitarian assistance.
It's not transportation to move to another place.
There are people,
no matter what you do, what you say, the information you provide them,
they will continue to move. They have made up their mind.
You won't change their mind.
We estimate it's not in the report,
but we estimate on some other recent survey we have carried out.
It's about 20% of the population.
they won't believe you. They won't trust you. They have one destination in mind
and they will try by all means.
Those who can't do much about about their desire to move,
even if it's
unrealistic, even if it's very dangerous.
But for many, they underestimate the risk, even if they claim they know the risk.
They underestimate the risk because those risks are downplayed, as Lauren said,
by the smugglers.
Those who are selling the dreams but also they are downplayed, some by the diaspora,
by their friends who have done the
same journey and all that.
So our responsibility is to provide them accurate information
and providing accurate information is not facilitating
irregular movement. It's about informing people
about the risk. When we know
about those risks that are in the report, we have a duty to inform
and we have a duty to try to
provide with states alternative to those dangerous journeys.
It is in the interest of the protection of those people.
The way to address that in the public opinion in Europe today
is again to remind people that the majority of migrants and refugees are
not moving onward to Europe.
They are staying within Africa. They are moving within neighbouring countries.
The vast majority stay. I mean, it's almost 70% stay
in the country next to their country of origin.
So this myth or this fear that they are all going to come.
You don't change geography. Some people will continue coming by sea by land
because that's human nature. It has always been like that.
What we can do is better manage that.
But to say we know those protection problem and those protection problem
will be a deterrent for people from moving. Well, no,
we see it four years after.
It's not a deterrent.
The risk seems to be higher
and people keep moving.
But why do they move?
Because also, some people tell us it's more dangerous to stay than to move.
So we need to go beyond the data and tell. Tell the story before the boat
over to you.
Thank you.
It opens up a really interesting conversation.
I will keep it at addressing one of the points
that you raised the concerns of the host communities nowadays
in being in Germany or being in every, uh, in in any other country, I think
this is nothing new. Um, it happens. It happened all the time.
Even with internal migration.
I grew up in an Italian city which experienced
a lot of internal migrants coming from the south.
And at the time you know,
there was really racism against these people coming
from the from the south of Italy,
even to the point that they were saying
Do not we
do not rent to Southerners So that is inherent in our human being.
We are fearing that something new we don't know, we don't master that kind of
novelty that is coming our way in our societies.
What can be done well, First of all,
there is a disconnect in the narrative.
You hear a lot of
a lot of negative and toxic discourse coming
especially from central levels of governments.
But if you look then at local authorities, for example, municipalities, mayors,
governors, you will see a different narrative in many countries of destination.
An important Italian mayor whom I spoke to
the other few weeks ago, he said Migrants for us are not beneficiaries.
Migrants are assets.
If this city does not
provide and offer access to services to housing, transport, health,
this city will collapse.
So there is a disconnect on the value of what migrants and people can bring, you know,
being refugees as well
bring to the to the societies of destination,
and this is also compounded by
the need of the private sector to fill
increasing gaps in in their in, in,
in in the work sector, talents and manpower.
It is not a secret that the birth rate,
the declining birth rate in many European countries,
is a pull factor for many migrants trying
to look at the opportunity of new opportunities.
And at the same time it's an ageing
versus an ageing north.
You see a youthful south which is obviously increasing in terms
of numbers of people who are putting themselves in the market.
I think there is. There is a lot to do in working on the narrative. I think
it is important to frame this discussion in a way that people are not terrified by
the words disembarkation invasion because that just resonates negatively.
People feel threatened at that point, you know, and they don't understand
while people probably are coming because they are in
need of international protection, because there
is an opportunity for them to fill certain gaps which
are no longer serviced or provided by the nationals.
I'll leave it at that,
thank you
and the two countries to na me the two countries with the organ
process. Sorry. I can't na me them. You just do google search. Um, where can I
Where, uh, organs a REV
Where migrants, Um where migrants, um,
are selling their organs. Just do a Google search. You'll find those countries.
Ok, I'm I'm sorry. We've also got, uh, just 10 minutes left.
We'll take a question first from Christo
in the room, and then I do see, uh, our colleagues online as well.
So we've got two more questions on the platform. But first to Christoph.
Uh, Christoph
I just had a question on the practise that you were talking about search and rescue
operations. For example, in the in the desert, where most of the people die
and there is no infrastructure,
like we always hear about the the boats that are
that are trying to save people crossing the Mediterranean.
Is there anything comparable
in place or that could be put in place
to, uh,
because I read the testimonies IN the reports of the
the the journeys a RE just absolutely horrendous and horrible.
so I was just wondering if there is anything any equivalent, uh,
in terms of search and rescue that we see on
on sea a sea
Thank you.
The best example I have is Djibouti,
where the authorities are running a search
and rescue programme along the coastal shore,
but on the land side and
on the routes leading to Ethiopia
And so there is a proper force established to do that.
So the search is difficult because you would need
assets that exist in the central Met but that do not exist in the desert.
But they rely on the information they get from local authorities,
sometimes for people who have passed through those routes
and they normally bring those they rescue to a centre, a migrant
centre operating by in a place called Obo.
For us, that's a very good practise that needs to be replicated elsewhere.
In the past, I
also helped ***
on that route leading to Libya some time to
pick up people that had been abandoned by smugglers.
From what I understand, that has stopped as a programme.
But that's really needed along all those routes because, you know,
in our mind Aga
is north of ***,
actually when you look at the map of ***, Agus
is in the centre of ***.
There is still half way to go. To go to Libya all the way from NME
to Agadez
is only half of the way
to go to Libya.
So vast raths of land that needs to be. That needs to be patrol.
But there again, technology could help.
there is absolutely no investment on on on search and rescue
land. We need that.
We need that in some parts of Mauritania.
We need that in some parts of Mali, south of Algeria.
I mean, there are many of those black spots
where the danger are acute and
where states should make more significant efforts.
Thank you. Let's, um, go to Emma Online. Emma. Over to you.
Thank you, Emma. Far
from Reuters.
Um, I just wanted to clarify on the death toll, please,
which my colleague Jamie mentioned.
Um, I know it's not exact science,
but is it fair to assume then that it's about
double the 7115
on the Mediterranean routes, the water routes, Um,
and is that a new finding in this report
and, uh, would Mr
Ktel clarify which countries have been, uh,
dumping migrants across their borders.
And finally, a kind of broader policy question.
Given what you were saying, Mr
Ktel, about, um, the abuse
often not being the smugglers but in fact, state actors or gangs. Um,
what are the policy implications of that?
Uh, the European Union seems to always talk about smugglers.
So in a way, do they have the wrong target? I Is that a mistake in policy? Thank you.
I'll take the first.
The first, the first part which is based on the missing Migrants project,
which is a tool which tracks incidents involving migrants,
including refugees and asylum seekers who have died or gone missing
in the process of migration towards
an international destination.
And since 2014, this project has recorded the deaths of just over 66,000 people
the remains also,
What comes out of the missing Migrants project is that the remains of
approximately 27,000 people lost their lives
during migration have not been recovered,
and the final one is that the most deadly route is the central Mediterranean route,
where at least 23,600 people have died since
2014. This is the information that I have at hand.
The other question was about the state carrying expulsion,
arbitrary expulsion, which are collective expulsion of people.
These are not individual
persons that are expelled but large group of people that are expelled.
It's mainly Tunisia and Algeria and to a lesser extent,
What Europe needs to do about
recalibrating its policy regarding those
creating or perpetrating those protection problems along the route well,
it's part of that dialogue
on migration partnership that needs to be
on. Based on what Brahm said. The highest respect for human rights
migration management deal with a third country
that would not be accompanied with those safeguards
is likely to lead to more expulsion pushbacks.
But it doesn't solve the problem,
not only creates problems for the people concerned,
they suffer where they are dumped, and
some lose their life in the desert during the expulsion process,
as we've seen recently.
But it doesn't solve the problem because those people end up somewhere.
Someone has to cater for the needs of those people,
and it cannot just be the same states always being used
as the dropping zone or the dustbin
for unmanaged migration policies.
Thank you, Vincent.
What we'll do is we'll take, uh, two more questions from the platform,
but one after the other.
And then we'll we'll open up.
Um, actually, before we do that, I think Brum wants to make a comment over to Brum.
Thank you. I just want to comment on the last question about smugglers by Emma.
I think what we're really missing in the debate on smugglers is nuances.
We see really a narrative being pushed by European policy makers,
for example,
that smugglers are the ones that are
luring people into irregular migration journeys.
We have asked
approximately 40,000 people
what influenced your decision to migrate.
Smugglers roughly come in seventh place.
So there are a lot of other factors that that
basically informs people's decision to migrate irregularly
is not so much the smugglers,
and it's similar with
the notion about smugglers as being the main perpetrators of violence.
Yes, there are places where they are the main perpetrators of violence.
There are also places where there are not. There are
benign smugglers that simply help people,
maybe even to find safety by helping them move across the border.
There are also smugglers that abuse people that violate people's rights.
So I think,
but we are missing.
Here is a much more nuanced portrayal of the role of smugglers,
but also of the rate of the role of state officials.
And that one is a much more difficult discussion,
perhaps to have also with national authorities, that
among their employees there are people who
are misbehaving themselves towards refugees and migrants.
But then again,
there are many that are just doing their job in
a proper way with adherence to human rights standards.
So I think
this lack of nuance is really what we
are seeing in this European debate on smugglers.
And I think part of this is also that
constantly pushing for a criminalised response to smugglers.
Blaming the smugglers
functions as a bit of a smokescreen in a
more sort of generic approach against irregular migration.
But I think it's sort of hiding some of
the real facts that are happening on the ground.
Thank you. From, uh
so if we can If we can open up the mic for Jeremy first and then Nikolai Jeremy,
your question, please.
Thank you. So,
uh so,
Um OK, thank you. Jeremy.
Uh, let's go to Nikolai and then we'll we'll take care of the answers. Nicolai?
Uh, yes. Hi. Uh, Nicola Nielsen EU observer. I just wanted to pick up on, uh, on bra's,
uh, comments on smugglers.
I mean, every few years, the European Commission, uh,
comes out with declarations that, um, and strategies
on its intention to break the business model of smugglers.
I think this has been going on for at least 10 years now.
And I was wondering, in the context of the report that that you, uh,
that you presented today To what extent
have those strategies proposed by the European Commission
to break the so-called business model with smoke or it has been effective.
And, um
yeah, thank you.
Thank you. And I think we just have the last hand also from Emma.
So we'll take that question and then we'll Sorry. Go to responses, Emma, Over to you.
I'm not sure I remember. Maybe that's remaining hand. If not, we'll
go straight. Maybe then we start.
Do you want to go ahead and answer
Jeremy's question?
Thank you. Yvonne
and Brown, would you like to take the question from Niccola from EU Observer.
Yeah, sure. Thank you for your question, Nikolai.
The notion of breaking the business model of smugglers is
very much part of that narrative in Europe as well.
I think it's safe to conclude that
Europe's migration policies have done the exact opposite
and not breaking the business model of smugglers
but boosting the business model of smugglers.
Just a small comparison.
When we interview Afghans who reach Europe, more than 90% used the smuggler.
When we interview Ukrainians who have entered the European Union,
0% use is a smuggler.
And of course, there are lots of
caveats to that comparison, and that would be a big discussion.
But I think it's clear what happens if people have safe and legal channels of moving.
They don't need a smuggler. If they don't they need a smuggler.
And as long as Europe tries to close off all the routes,
you might succeed to some extent closing the routes.
But there will always be new routes, and especially with Europe's geography,
with its sea borders, with its
proximity to locations where migrants and refugees are coming from,
it's going to be pretty hard to physically close off the whole of Europe. And
that means smugglers will always find their way,
no matter how hard you crack down.
In fact, the harder you crack down, the higher the profit.
Thank you, Graham. And I think that's all we have time for, unfortunately,
um, today.
But, uh, we we will, um, take any questions, obviously, bilaterally, um,
and online after the briefing.
And just to kindly remind everyone that, um,
the embargo does lift at five o'clock in the morning.
Um, local time central,
uh, European summer time tomorrow.
Um, and just a reminder again,
if you haven't got a copy of the report or you need any other information, uh,
do contact us.
But thank you for joining
the briefing and for your interest in this very critical subject. Thank you.
And goodbye.