16 April 2015
The Red Cross is giving life-saving help to thousands of migrants landing on the shores of Italy. Many need urgent medical care after days at sea.
Hundreds of people are thought to have died attempting to cross from Africa in recent weeks, often fleeing poverty or lethal violence.
British Red Cross chief executive Mike Adamson described the deaths as “a source of shame for us all”, and called for new steps to protect migrants.
More than 100 Italian Red Cross volunteers and staff are working in the country’s main southern ports in the regions of Sicily, Calabria and Apulia.
The teams are equipped with inflatable tents, ambulances and other vehicles. They are giving first aid, supplying food and water, and getting people to nearby hospitals.
On Tuesday and Wednesday this week more than 3,500 people landed on the islands of Sicily and Lampedusa, including children and pregnant women.
In the same period Italian Red Cross volunteers, including two doctors, helped 787 migrants recently landed in the mainland region of Calabria.
Tragedies "cast a shadow over Europe"
Mike Adamson said: “These terrible tragedies cast a dark shadow on Europe. Sadly, the recent deaths are not a new phenomenon but they underline the urgent need for safe and legal routes to Europe for people seeking protection.
“The Red Cross believes that a commitment from the EU to identify and rescue boats in distress swiftly is imperative. This coupled with humanitarian visas, which would allow those seeking asylum to travel safely, could prevent these needless deaths.
“Until this is addressed, people will continue to die and that is source of shame for us all.”