The Current

G7 leaders failing migrants and EU nations, says MSF rescuer

Humanitarian organizations and rescue groups called on world leaders to address the migration crisis at the G7 summit in Italy, but they failed to deliver.
NGOs and rescue groups are urging governments to take steps to address the global migrant crisis. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

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Humanitarian organizations and rescue groups are calling on governments to work towards solving the world's migrant crisis — one that has seen more than 50,000 migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea to seek asylum in Europe.

More than 400 people died making the treacherous trip this month alone. They were mostly migrants from Libya who were trying to reach Italy's shores.

Marcela Kreey's team at Médecins Sans Frontières rescued thousands of people who were stranded in the ocean after falling off rubber dinghies and rickety boats filled over capacity.

"What we see on board are people that have often been travelling for a long, long time ... from their home countries where they're fleeing violence or fleeing war," Kreey tells The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.

Over 50,000 migrants have made the harrowing journey across the Mediterranean Sea to seek asylum in Europe. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Some migrants spend months and even years attempting to flee Libya to get on these boats. Often they are intercepted during their journey and sent back to face arbitrary detention.

According to Kreey, for many of the migrants, the only ways out of the country are forced labour, paying large sums of money or, for women, prostitution.

"The stories that come from that place are horrific and it's very clear that for many people it's very difficult to get out," Kreey explains.

"Their only option is to step onto an overcrowded dangerous rubber boat ... this shows how desperate they are to get out of that place and just find another future and safety for themselves in Europe." 
Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni hoped to bring the migrant crisis to the top of the G7 Summit agenda, but came away empty-handed. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Italy, one of the countries at the heart of the crisis, hoped to put the issue at the top of their agenda at the G7 Summit in Taormina, Sicily. However, the meeting came to a close without a solution in place to address the problem that affects numerous EU nations.

Federico Soda, the director of the coordination office for the Mediterranean at the International Organization for Migration, says the lack of consensus within the G7 does not come as a shock, given the current political landscape in countries like the United States and United Kingdom that are grappling with immigration and refugee-related issues.

"By and large, the absence of both migration and asylum policies Europe-wide makes it very, very difficult," Soda explains.

"And now in the last couple of years with how politically charged the issue has become, it's virtually impossible to find even a small group of like-minded countries even within Europe."

As migrants continue to escape to Europe in often dangerous and illegal ways, Kreey says Italian reception centres are "completely overwhelmed" and need help from other countries.

"G7 leaders are failing not only the people that are fleeing violence and distress, but also countries like Italy and Greece who are then left to deal with the situation … on their own."

Listen to the full segment at the top of this web post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Lara O'Brien, Sujata Berry and Alison Masemann.