A photo of a coastline of the Mediterranean sea, with beautiful waters and people enjoying nature.

In less than 10 years, 27,047 people have died or disappeared in the Mediterranean in attempts to reach Europe. Refugees die in the waters of the Atlantic and in the Dover-Calais crossing. The land borders are deadly too. People have been killed by suffocation in trucks, hypothermia, in road accidents and by violence. Europe’s lack of establishing safe routes for refugees has created the world’s deadliest border.

Several European countries have not signed the Global Compact on Migration, a non-binding statement of principles adopted by most of the world’s countries in 2018. Through it, governments commit “to save lives and prevent migrant deaths” by enabling search and rescue and by evaluating national policies and laws that can “raise or create the risk” of people disappearing or dying.

In June 2023 a fishing boat carrying an estimate of 750 people on board sank off the coast of Greece. Only 104 were brought to Kalamata. It’s feared that 650 people’s lives have been lost in the shipwreck, and among those 100 children. Despite knowing that the ship was in distress, Greek authorities ignored alarms made.

Europe is actively targeting the rights of refugees, and those upholding their rights.

The year following the European Union’s agreement with Turkey to close the Greece-Turkey crossing in the Mediterranean was the deadliest recorded yet. In 2016, 5,136 deaths were recorded in the sea.

In addition, European countries are creating national policies to make safe routes even more hazardous and accessing asylum even more difficult. Furthermore, humanitarian aid workers are persecuted and search and rescue operations aborted.

“Accusing and prosecuting people who support refugees and safe lives discourages others from helping those in need and prevents them from defending the rights of others.”

Those words are taken from an open letter by Free Humanitarians, that are seeking justice for Sarah Mardini, Sean Binder and Nassos Karakitsos. They were search and rescuers volunteering on the island of Lesvos with a Greek rescue organisation. They were charged with crimes like espionage and facilitating illegal entry and spent 108 days in pre trial detention after their arrest in 2018. In January 2023 their charges were dropped, only to be back to court for a new trial in May this year for misdemeanour offences that could result in 8 to 20 years in prison.

Various countries in Europe have proposed policies for pushbacks on refugees, including those trapped in dinghys off the countries’ coasts. Frontex, the EU’s border agency, has also been exposed of perpetrating violence, harassment and illegal pushbacks of those seeking safety.

Europeans’ racist policies need to make headlines.

The majority of those dying at the borders of Europe are black and brown people. They are people seeking safety from war, conflicts, ethnic discrimination, climate disasters and more. And yet, Europe continues to let them die – because of a lack of establishing safe routes for these people.

Every single death and human rights violation at the borders of European countries must make headlines. These stories need to continue to be shared for Europeans to act to hold decision-makers accountable and vote for leaders that stand up for human rights. Because, right now, it is us, Europeans that are enabling these racist and deadly policies and actions to continue to take place.

There’s one more year before the elections in the European Parliament. It’s time to put pressure on our elected representatives and to vote for those who are willing to make a change.

Please share this post with Europeans in your network.

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