Statement delivered by Dunja Mijatović on 2 October 2023 via video at the round table “10 years of indifference” held in Lampedusa as part of the days of commemoration and remembrance for the tragedy of the 3 October 2013.
It is an honour for me to join you for these days of remembrance and commemoration today, even if I cannot be there in person.
Ten years have passed since the tragedy of the 3rd of October and the human rights of refugees are still far from being respected in Europe.
The images broadcast these days from Lampedusa bring me back to my visit to the island. On that occasion, I witnessed the efforts of the inhabitants, of the local authorities and of the organisations working on Lampedusa, who continue to extend generous assistance to those arriving.
The community of Lampedusa, however, should not be left alone. We have ignored their appeals for far too long. It is our common European responsibility to find the courage to act and stop the ongoing human tragedy in the Mediterranean.
To do so, I call on European countries to prevent further deaths at sea by ensuring that safe and legal routes are put in place.
In addition, I urge European countries to live up to their obligations and establish a European search and rescue operation.
I also highlight the need to establish a regional database to track those migrants who have died or disappeared. This would be crucial in providing answers to their families, who deserve to find closure.
The human tragedy in the Mediterranean is not inevitable. Better policies that respect human rights can prevent it from continuing.
Dear friends, let me conclude by thanking all NGOs and organisations gathered in Lampedusa for these days of remembrance and commemoration for their commitment to providing assistance to the most vulnerable, on land and at sea. And by expressing once again my heartfelt gratitude to the community of Lampedusa, whose actions put human dignity before all other considerations."