ILO Director-General calls for rights-based, migrant-centred and durable solutions to help migrants crossing into Europe

Statement | 23 April 2015
No-one can be complacent in the face of the tragedy that has been unfolding in the Mediterranean Sea.

I express my deepest sympathy to the families of all who perished in the latest disaster last weekend.

Confronted with these journeys of desperation, the global community must find the courage to act.

The death toll from these perilous attempts to reach Europe in search of security, dignity and decent livelihoods has mounted over the past year and the number of crossings is expected to rise in the coming months as the weather gets warmer in Europe. How many more journeys and tragedies before action on the breadth and scale required is taken?

I am encouraged by this week’s decision by European Foreign and Interior Ministers to adopt the 10-point action plan of the European Union Joint Foreign and Home Affairs Council, which includes strengthening EU action to save lives at sea. Yet it is but a beginning.

The humanitarian crisis must be our immediate concern; lives must be saved. But even as we tackle that immense challenge, we cannot ignore the deeply rooted socio-economic problems that breed human trafficking and migrant smuggling.

Of course there is no easy fix. The elements of effective approaches must include: the creation of more and better jobs in countries of origin; the possibility of creating more regular channels of migration which meet real labour market needs and facilitate family reunion and improving oversight of how migrants are recruited. Clearly, responses on many fronts are needed.

In searching for durable solutions a wide range actors must be at the table, including Ministries of Labour, trade unions and employers’ representatives. The ILO is cultivating this dialogue in its Fair Recruitment Initiative, as well as in national and regional policy processes.

The ILO stands ready to work with the European Union, the UN’s Global Migration Group and other international agencies in giving careful thought to tackling this problem with rights-based, migrant-centred and durable policy solutions.