Save refugees from drowning by letting them fly

The past two weeks has seen refugees drown in seas as well as in sorrow.

Hundreds have drowned attempting to cross the seas of the Mediterranean through to Europe. Media reports continuously refer to human traffickers who organise these journeys charge upwards of $1000 per person for this journey. Clearly, if these refugees have the ability to pay for these journeys, then surely they can pay for a plane ticket from their home country to Europe. Refugees are being processed once they arrive in Europe; however, they are dying as they make the journey. In order to stop them dying, let them fly.

The reason hundreds of refugees are not flying is the EU has left it up to airline carriers to decide what the political legal status of refugees is. The EU directive 2001/51/EC effect constitutes that Member States “introduce provisions laying down the obligations of carriers transporting foreign nationals” in order to combat illegal immigration.

Why are airline carriers adamant on refugees losing their lives at sea, rather than allowing them to fly?

Yara al-Wazir

Effectively, this means that a person cannot travel if they do not have a visa to enter the EU. While this is fair, it is a prelude to an exceptive clause. The third clause in the same directive directly states that the “application of this Directive is without prejudice to the obligations resulting from the Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees”

Getting to the root cause of the problem as to why hundreds of refugees are drowning isn’t exclusively because the EU isn’t letting them in. In fact, the EU’s Dublin Regulation means that once a refugee enters a EU member nation, their refugee application must be processed in that same nation.

Why are airline carriers adamant on refugees losing their lives at sea, rather than allowing them to fly?

The world is full of distractions. There is a lot of talk about the need to process the refugees arriving into Europe by sea, and a lot of talk about the budget cuts to the search and rescue efforts. More recently, blame has been cast on Gulf member nations for not taking more refugees into their countries – these are all distractions. If we want to stop refugees from dying, we must convince them that the sea is not safer than their land, but a flight is. After all, we all migrated from somewhere.

Yara al-Wazir is a humanitarian activist. She is the founder of The Green Initiative ME and a developing partner of Sharek Stories. She can be followed and contacted on twitter @YaraWazir

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:48 - GMT 06:48
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