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Migration Swiss campaigners urge action over Mediterranean deaths

Migrants on an overcrowded wooden boat wait to be rescued in the Mediterranean Sea

Migrants on an overcrowded wooden boat wait to be rescued in the Mediterranean Sea on September 19, 2019. 

(Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved)

Campaign groups have handed a petition to the Swiss authorities signed by thousands of citizens calling for urgent measures “to stop refugee deaths in the Mediterranean Sea”.

The petition, which had been signed by 24,425 people, was handed over to the Swiss Federal Chancellery on Tuesday. It is backed by dozens of Swiss campaign groups such as Solidarité sans frontièresexternal link and the Migrationscharta.ch networkexternal link.

It calls on the Federal Council (executive body) and parliament to adopt measures to ensure migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean by boat can be saved, and properly looked after, if they get into difficulty.

The text urges Switzerland to participate in the development of a civilian rescue service financed and run by European states. The campaigners also want the Swiss authorities to commit to welcoming those rescued at sea in accordance with humanitarian principles and the rule of law.

The petition follows a similar motion filed by the leftwing Social Democratic Party at the House of Representatives, which has the support of most Swiss political parties.

On Tuesday around 200 activists laid out banderoles on a Bern square with the names of the 36,000 people who have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean or on other exile routes to Europe since 2013.

On January 3, the Geneva-based International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported that 110,669 migrants and refugees had entered Europe by sea during the year just ended, marking the sixth straight year that at least 100,000 arrivals were recorded on three Mediterranean Sea routes.

IOM recorded 1,283 deaths on the three main Mediterranean Sea routes in 2019, or at least 19,164 migrants since 2014.​​​​​​​

Keystone-SDA/sb

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