Europe’s Commissioners express “deep concern” over migrant tragedies

24 April 2015

The European Network of Ombudspersons for Children (ENOC) has expressed deep concern and grief at the continued loss of life of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea.

ENOC – a network of 41 children’s rights institutions currently chaired by the Commissioner – explained its views in an open letter to all National Governments, the European Union, and the International Community.

In their letter, ENOC says:

“[We] express our deep concern and grief regarding the mass tragedies unfolding in the Mediterranean, where hundreds of migrants, including children and their parents, have and continue to perish.
“These too frequent tragedies provoke not merely mass expressions of shock and grief, but also an increasing awareness of the primary and ultimate role of National Governments, the EU and the International Community: to promote and protect the rights of people, especially of those who are most vulnerable.
“More often than not, migrants leave their homeland out of despair, ready to face perilous journeys to reach a better place. In so doing, many children, women and men are meeting their death.”

The letter goes on to:

  • remind National Governments, the EU and the International Community of their moral and legal duty to help migrants access their human rights
  • stress that National Governments, the EU and the International Community must respond proactively to save the lives of people on the move
  • argue that National Governments, the EU and the International Community should reconsider their international and foreign policies to assess and prevent massive fleeing of people― including children.

The rights of children on the move

ENOC’s 2013 Statement on children on the move states that children on the move are children first. With this in mind, the letter stresses the need for full compliance of existing laws, policies and practices with the UNCRC and other relevant International Human Rights Instruments which ensure the protection of all children. It stresses:

The letter argues that the resources needed to uphold the human rights of migrants are beyond what any one country can contribute, and that structured cooperation is needed for countries to protect and support people on the move― including children.

The letter finishes by saying:

“Constitutions are premised on the principle of the inherent value and dignity of human life. Tragedies like those unfolding in the Mediterranean violate this principle.
“Acting proactively and collectively to save the lives of migrant persons, including children, is the least we can do to uphold the integrity of nations united by a common belief in the primacy of human rights.”

Read ENOC’s open letter to all National Governments, the European Union, and the International Community.

Visit ENOC’s website.