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IOM: saving lives must always be the number-one priority


Rome, 28 March - In the last few weeks there have been serious incidents involving migrants and rescue operators with alarming consequences, including the death of a Nigerian women while she was giving birth at the St. Anna Hospital in Turin. The young woman had been rescued few months ago by some volunteers while she was trying to reach France with her husband and her little child, and she died following complications arising from childbirth and a severe lymphoma she was affected by.

Another group of migrants in Claviere faced great difficulties in finding a safe shelter during particularly harsh and dangerous climate conditions, while few days ago another pregnant woman was rescued at high altitude by a mountain guide that now risks to be indicted for facilitating illegal immigration for having taken the woman to the nearest hospital in France.

These events took place precisely when heated controversies on boats engaged in search and rescue activities at sea broke out again, controversies that risk to overshadow the fact that saving lives must always be the number-one priority.

A priority that remains an urgency in these months: despite the decline in arrivals recorded on March 24 this year (21,928 arrivals in 2017, 6,161 in the same period of 2018: -70%), the number of deaths – although lower in absolute numbers (727 in 2017, 358 in 2018) – has, as a matter of fact, increased proportionally by 75%.

Hence, the humanitarian emergency in the Mediterranean continues to remain a dramatic reality and the strengthening of search and rescue operations should always come before any other political assessment.

In view of these events, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) deems it necessary to reiterate that the protection of human life must come as a priority with respect to other migration-related considerations and that the rescue of people in difficulty is a principle of humanity and solidarity.

While respecting national and supranational migration policies and laws, IOM underlines that migration management must always be based on the respect of all individuals’ fundamental rights, in particular on the right to life and the right to health.


For information: Flavio Di Giacomo, Spokesperson - fdigiacomo@iom.int - Tel. +39 06 44 186 207/221