28 April 2015


The Advisory Council on Youth of the Council of Europe expresses its sadness and horror at the latest reports coming from the Mediterranean Sea and the hundreds of lives reported lost. While our hearts are with the families of the victims, we want to call for respect of human rights, with a special emphasis on young migrants, so that the Mediterranean Sea may again become a place which brings together different peoples from different regions to promote dialogue and understanding, and not anymore a place where humanitarian tragedies take place regularly.

Europe is (still) a dream of peace, freedom and dignified life. These migrants seek this dream, running away from conflicts, extreme poverty and exploitation, and facing subhuman conditions, corruption and a high probability of dying or being repatriated. Although Europe is the destination, it has the responsibility to act according the values and principles it professes, especially by taking into account the European Convention on Human rights. Tackling this tragedy should be at the top of the Council of Europe Members States’ political agendas.

In this respect the Advisory Council on Youth calls for:

      International policies and actions aimed first of all to safeguard human rights and the lives of migrants and asylum seekers;

      Understanding of how the fight against human trafficking cannot be separated from the protection of those who are victims of such trafficking;

      A special respect for the rights of young migrants and asylum seekers, with a particular regard for the rights of unaccompanied minors;

      The guarantee of proper and decent conditions and treatment for migrants and asylum seekers;

      Major efforts in international and interregional cooperation to address the phenomenon and fight asymmetric social and human conditions;

      Facilitating the “legal” entry into the Council of Europe member states for work and job-seeking;

      Immediate opening of the humanitarian corridors which would allow refugees to enter into Europe without having to risk their lives;

      Encouraging operations that have as their sole objective the safety of human lives through the activities of search and rescue operations at sea;

      Suspend existing agreements with migrants’ home countries which do not offer adequate and effective guarantees in respect of human rights. Preparing a welcome programme for asylum-seekers coordinated at European level, providing adequate resources;

      Drafting of new agreements with third countries which should be subject to the guarantee of the right to seek asylum, to the prohibition of collective expulsions and to the commitment to the principle of non-refoulement.

While the Advisory Council on Youth praises the efforts of many youth NGOs in safeguarding human rights and fostering inclusion of migrants, we encourage the Civil Society to increase its commitment and urge all relevant stakeholders to provide means and support for the said efforts.

Recent news has shown how bitter the sting of extremism can be, and how tragic the outcomes of social exclusion of ethnic minorities. Believing that exclusion, marginalisation and extremism nurture each other, and taking into account that young people are made extremely vulnerable through marginalisation and segregation, we wish to underline the crucial importance of investing in the social inclusion of every young person, with particular regard to migrants and asylum seekers. This cannot be done without the real involvement of Youth Organisations with their ability to reach out to young people through peer dynamics.

On behalf of the Advisory Council on Youth

Paulo Pinheiro,