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    People holding a banner that reads "Safe escape route now," attend a demonstration for the rights of migrants crossing the Mediterranean to Europe in Berlin, Germany, July 6, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 23 July 2019

In a joint statement, the two officials stressed that rescue operations should no longer fall exclusively on commercial vessels and those of non-governmental organizations, let alone be criminalized for that work.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) highlighted Tuesday the commitment made by several countries of the European Union (EU) to implement measures to prevent further deaths of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea.

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The head, Filippo Grandi, and the director of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Antonio Vitorino, called on the EU to resume the search and rescue of migrants it had put on hold.

In a joint statement, the two officials stressed that rescue operations should no longer fall exclusively on commercial vessels and those of non-governmental organizations, let alone they be criminalized for their work.

According to reports, of the 14 countries represented at the Paris meeting, eight accepted France and Germany's proposal for the distribution of refugees once rescued at sea. The proposal was first announced on Monday by French President Emmanuel Macron. The mechanism, which will be coordinated by the European Commission, will run until October or late 2019 and will allow migrants to be transported by private boats to the nearest safe port.

It will also facilitate the relocation of asylum seekers as quickly as possible to other countries.

Another point highlighted by UNHCR and IOM in their statement was the consensus of European states to end the arbitrary detention of refugees and migrants in Libya.

"Faced with the risks of abuse, ill-treatment or death, no one should be returned to detention centers in Libya after being intercepted or rescued at sea," the statement said.

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