18 July 2019 UN calls the EU to return to save lives in front of Libyan coasts and Italy to stop criminalizing migrant rescuers

IOM, UNHCR and UN Human Rights, with two statements asked a radical change to the international approach towards refugees and migrants in Libya and condemned the criminalisation of migrant rescues and threats to the independence of judiciary in Italy. On 11 July the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in a common statement noted that “In the past European State vessels conducting search and rescue operations saved thousands of lives, including through disembarkations in safe ports. They should resume this vital work and temporary disembarkation schemes should urgently be established”. Furthermore, considering the tragedy happened in Tajoura Detention Centre on 3 July, they launched an appeal to EU and African Union “to prevent such a tragedy from happening again”. On 18 July, the UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner (UN Human Rights) officially expressed their concern for what happened in Italy with the Sea Watch 3’s Capitan Carola Rackete, stating that “Rescuing migrants in distress at sea is not a crime” and urging “the Italian authorities to immediately stop the criminalisation of search and rescue operations”.