400 people dead in the Mediterranean is an unacceptable death toll
The news that up to 400 people have drowned in the Mediterranean trying to reach Italy by boat from Africa has prompted an outpouring of condemnation from human rights groups.
Susan Munroe, Chief Executive, Freedom from Torture, said:
"400 people dead in the Mediterranean is an unacceptable death toll and an indictment of the attitudes of the European Governments towards people fleeing from regions where violence and human rights abuses are rife. How many more dead will we see before we stop putting our heads in the sand?
"Many of the individuals dying in these appalling circumstances will have been fleeing persecution, violence, torture or the threat of torture and would have had a legitimate claim to seek asylum within Europe. It is a travesty of justice that so many won't have that chance.
"Survivors of torture are especially vulnerable and traumatised, and have specific needs which must be identified at an early stage in order to allow them to access the services they need to put their lives back together. It is therefore appalling that so many of them have to run the gauntlet of traffickers and the perils of the open seas to get the help they need. European Governments must respond to this situation urgently."