Paula Hermens

Cite as

Committee: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee

Country: Italy

Delegate: Paula Hermens, Maastricht University

Topic A: Regulation on treatment of refugees attempting to cross borders

Due to the war in Syria, the conflicts in Afghanistan, East Africa and the Horn of Africa and the collapse of Libya the mobilization of migrants and refugees towards Europe has increased. Hundreds of thousands of them embarked on a dangerous journey, crossing the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe in an effort to find safety. This journey is in many cases very difficult and there has been a high death toll for those trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea. According to the International Organization for Migration, this resulted in 5.079 deaths of migrants in 2016 while 2014 resulted in 3.279 deaths . This means that the number of people that are dying in their attempt to reach the border of safer destinations is increasing.

Italy as a country is one of the main landing points of migrants due to its geographical location in the Mediterranean Sea. In past years, the majority of migrants arrived in Italy by sea. Since 2008, the number of sea arrivals, whilst fluctuating over time, has averaged 25.000 persons per year. However, this number has risen over the years. 2016 being its highest point on record, reaching 181.436 migrants. Italy has already undertaken far-reaching and commendable efforts to save lives at sea. First, it is a State Party to the 1961 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and to its Protocol since 1954 and 1972, respectively. Through this, Italy has participated actively in efforts of the European Union to harmonize asylum and migration policies and to establish a Common European Asylum System. Second, it has established a decentralized international protection status determination procedure with adequate safeguards and outcomes and it transposed the EU Qualification Directive. Finally, it launched with EU Operation Sophia, an anti-migrant smuggling operation in the Mediterranean Sea, and proposed a new quota system to relocate migrants among EU states.

However, Italy cannot take care of these migrants alone and the European Union is s...