Concerns are being raised about trafficking gangs luring children and young girls made homeless by the earthquake in Nepal with the promise of jobs in India and beyond. All too often these young people can end up in appalling conditions, tied into a life of hard labour or exploitative sex work.
A young Nepali girl stands amidst the ruins caused by the earthquake in Kathmandu. Girls made homeless by the earthquake are vulnerable to being trafficked into brothels
Nepal has a strong tradition of migration for work but also a serious trafficking problem. Some estimates suggest as many as 15,000 young women are trafficked every year into brothel work in India.
No child wants to leave their family and education to go and work in a foreign country. No parent wants to send their child away. Few young women in traditional societies want to take the risk of leaving the communities they know. Poverty and vulnerability drives people into this, it’s a solution of desperation.
Nepal earthquake has hit the poor hardest
The earthquake in Nepal has hit the poor hardest, destroying homes, schools and livelihoods in some of the country's poorest and most remote areas. When even the little hope you have for the future has gone, promises of a better future are tempting.
Young girls playing outside the tent where they've been living since the Nepal earthquake struck their home in Khokhana
For ActionAid this means providing information and safe spaces for women and children in the worst affected areas, protecting people from threats to their well-being and helping them cope with the shock and trauma of the event.
It also means helping communities recover quickly, rebuilding homes and schools destroyed and helping people not only re-establish their livelihoods and businesses, but giving them a chance to make those enterprises even stronger than before.
ActionAid is helping women and girls with safe spaces to recover from the earthquake
This should reduce poverty in the affected areas, making less tempting the illusory offers of the traffickers.
What is ActionAid doing to stop trafficking in Nepal?
ActionAid has a long history of working with anti-trafficking groups in Nepal. From this we know there are strong voices in Nepalese society that can combat this threat.
We know too that Nepal has good laws in place, and at this time in particular we call on the Government of Nepal to enforce this legislation effectively and humanely, criminalising not those who seek a better future but those who exploit and harm the vulnerable.
How can you help?
The best way to help people - including young children and girls at risk of trafficking - in Nepal right now is to donate to our emergency appeal. We are on the ground with communities helping them rebuild their lives. Your donation will go to the people who need it most.
We’re now in the second week of helping survivors of the earthquake that hit Nepal on Saturday 25th April. We want to keep you updated on what's going on so you can see how your donations are helping. For news from last week you can read our original live Nepal earthquake blog. For this week's stories from the field look out for new posts below (we're adding the most recent information at the top).
70-year-old Bishnu and his family who lost their home and are now living in a tent.
Mon 11 May 11.19: The death toll from the earthquake has now reached over 7,600 and the number of people injured is over 16,300. This is 42-year-old Budhu Maya from Ichok village. Her 7-year-old daughter was killed as a result of the earthquake.
42-year-old Budhu Maya is mourning her 7-year-old daughter killed in the Nepal earthquake.
Your donations are helping us get aid to women like Budhu. We've already delivered food, medicine and shelter to her village - Ichok village in Sindhupalchok district. We can't ease the pain of losing her daughter. But we can support her to survive during this terrible time.
Fri 8 May 15.41: We've just heard that we have now supported approximately 48,520 people with immediate relief items (e.g. food, hygiene kits, medicines, shelter materials and protection centres) across Kathmandu valley, Sindhupalchok and Kavre districts.
We're really proud of and grateful to our incredible staff and volunteers on the ground who have been working around the clock to buy, coordinate and distribute this aid. Considering many of them have been personally affected by the earthquake their dedication to helping others is all the more remarkable.
Their hard work means that families like these in Talamarang village who lost their homes now have a tent to sleep under at night.
Fri 8 May 13.44: This is Karuna Pathak collecting her rice and other food provisions that our teams have brought to the rural mountain community of Kot Danda. Kot Danda is a small farming community at the very top of a mountain - a 45-minute drive out of Kathmandu. Until we arrived they hadn't received any assistance from other aid agencies. We've now delivered food, plastic sheeting for waterproofing shelters and tents.
Karuna Pathak collecting her food such as rice provided by ActionAid in Kot Danda, Nepal.
Getting aid to remote areas like this can be very challenging. The bags are heavy, making it tiring loading and unloading trucks. The roads through the mountains can be treacherous and when our teams get there they often have to carry the bags on foot for long distances to reach the places where people are staying.
Porters come to collect aid we delivered to Mahanka village in Sindhupalchok district, Nepal.
Thur 7 May 12.54: We're getting reports that an increase in child trafficking in Nepal is a real fear right now. Young girls and women who have been made homeless by the earthquake are vulnerable to gangs who lure them to India with the promise of jobs, but then force them into unpaid labour or sex work.
Young girls playing outside the tent where they've been living since the Nepal earthquake struck their home in Khokhana
We're calling on the Nepali government to enforce trafficking laws and deal with vulnerable people humanely. The best way you can help girls and women affected by the earthquake right now is still to donate to our emergency appeal. We're helping people rebuild their lives, which will make them less vulnerable to traffickers.
Thur 7 May 11.32: Kanchi, 45 lost her house and cattle (which were her main source of food) to the earthquake in Ichok village in Sindhupalchok district. We've made it here with aid deliveries, especially food, which the whole village desperately needed.
Kanchi lost her house and cattle in the earthquake. ActionAid have delivered food to her entire village
You can help us get more aid deliveries through to people in the the rural remote areas of Nepal who need it most. Donate to our appeal now.
Thur 7 May 09.53: In Khokhana, Manje stands with her three children Lisa (9, left), Daisy (18 months) and Muna (9, right), in front of their tent, where they've been living for the past 12 days. Manje told us:
"My house collapsed during the earthquake. I've used my own tarpaulin to build a shelter. If we don't get help we will have to stay here. We have nowhere to go."
Manje and her 3 children have been living in this temporary shelter in Khokhana since the earthquake struck
Wed 6 May 14.59: In Kathmandu Bir Hospital, Hiramaya sits with her 3-year-old son Rju Kumar. They were travelling from their village in Sindhupalchowk district to Kathmandu when the earthquake struck and their vehicle was overturned. Rju Kamar broke his leg. It took them 4 days to get to hospital.
3-year-old Rju Kamar's leg was broken in the earthquake. It took him and his mother 4 days to reach the nearest hospital
Wed 6 May 12.29: An update on the situation in Nepal right now.
7,365 people have died.
14,355 have been injured.
191,058 homes have been destroyed, and 175,162 more are damaged.
3 million people need food - 1.4 million of them urgently.
Wed 6 May 12.22: This is Shretha. She's a senior nurse at Patan Hospital in Lalitpur District, south of Kathmandu, where staff have been overwhelmed by patients - and delivered more than 200 babies - since the earthquake struck. Here Shretha is listening to an unborn baby's heartbeat.
Senior nurse Shretha listens to a baby's heartbeat at Patan Hospital, Kathmandu
We've pledged £50k of funding to Patan hospital in for medical supplies and equipment for the operating theatre.
Wed 6 May 09.26: More than 14,000 women from areas affected by the Nepal earthquake are expected to give birth this month. And there are over 184,500 pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers in areas affected by the earthquake.
28-year-old Shreya is 8 months pregnant. She told us: The earthquake shook me so hard my baby moved to the wrong position."
Shreya is 8 months pregnant. The earthquake shook her so hard her baby moved to the wrong position
Women giving birth and their newborn children are especially vulnerable in the earthquake-ravaged regions of Nepal, and have very specific needs. Some women have told us they find it difficult and embarrassing to breastfeed in the crowded tents where they are staying, and are physically weak from lack of food.
We are setting up safe tents where mothers can feed their children in privacy, and we are providing food packages to help nourish mothers so they can care for their new babies.Donate now to help us do more.
Shakhu's baby is 7 days old. She was born during the earthquake at Patan Hospital in Kathmandu.
Shakhu said: "I was on my way to the hospital when the earthquake started. Buildings began falling around me and the roads were cracking. The car began to shake. I was terrified. I thought I was going to die. We drove through the aftershocks for over an hour to get to the hospital."
Shakhu with her one-week-old baby girl, who was born during the earthquake
Shakhu went on: "I don’t know what I would have done if the hospital wasn’t here. I would have been stranded. I probably would have died and my baby too. When I got to the hospital the nurses and doctors helped me a lot. At first they gave me medicine to help my labour, but in the end I had to have an emergency cesarean. Thankfully my baby is fine, which makes me relieved. They saved both our lives.
"I haven’t named my baby yet. She will be named 12 days after her birth as is tradition. Our family are already thinking she should be called ‘Lucky’.”
We've pledged £50,000 to Patan hospital in Lalitpur District, south of Kathmandu, for medical supplies and equipment for an operating theatre which could be used for maternal support. Want to help? You can donate here to support new mums in Nepal.
Tue 5 May 15:48: Our teams have been working tirelessly to deliver aid to rural communities as fast as they can. And they're keeping on going, because they know that for families who are going hungry - time is of the essence.
Tue 5 May 15:03: Good news that shops are beginning to open again in Kathmandu. But it's the rural areas that are hard to reach that still so badly need help. So we're prioritising reaching these remote communities.
Tue 5 May 14:07: Like with everything we do, we always prioritise women and children, as we know thay they are usually affected the worst in emergency situations. Our colleague Natalie Curtis met with mums and their babies who are struggling to survive.
Tue 5 May 10:27: The severity of damage caused by the earthquake continues to increase. According to The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA):
7,365 people have been killed
14,355 people have been injured
191,058 homes have been destroyed
175,162 homes have been damaged.
A family walking through all that remains of a street in Khokhana town, Kathmandu.
Thanks to the incredible response from our supporters, we've already been able to help 26,800 people by getting them the bare essentials they need to survive.
So far we’ve provided:
food (rice, lentils, salt, oil, dahl etc.) to approximately 20,000 people
hygeine/medical kits (disposable gloves, sanitary pads, soap etc.) to 5,750 people
shelter (mattresses and tarpaulin sheets) to 200 people
nutritional food to 80 pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.
And each day we’re reaching more people.
But there are thousands who still need help. And hope. Without it they could die. From hunger. From disease. From lack of protection against the elements. You can take action to stop this happening. Donate what you can now.
ActionAid's staff are on the ground right now giving emergency support to survivors of April's devastating earthquake, which was the worst to hit Nepal in 80 years. Check out the map below to see where we're helping and we're bringing you the latest updates and news as we have it (most recent information displays at the top).
Mon 4 May 12.40: Shakhu's baby is 7 days old. She was born during the earthquake at Patan Hospital in Kathmandu. Shakhu told us:
"I was on my way to the hospital when the earthquake started. I had already gone into labour about 40 minutes before the ground started shaking. Buildings began falling around me and the roads were cracking. The car began to shake. I was terrified because I thought I was going to die. We drove through the aftershocks for over an hour to get to the hospital."
"I don’t know what I would have done if the hospital wasn’t here. I would have been stranded. I probably would have died and my baby too. When I got to the hospital the nurses and doctors helped me a lot. At first they gave me medicine to help my labour, but in the end I had to have an emergency cesarean. Thankfully my baby is fine, which makes me relieved. They saved both our lives.
"I haven’t named my baby yet. She will be named 12 days after her birth as is tradition. Our family are already thinking she should be called ‘Lucky’.
Shakhu told us: "My home has been destroyed. We can’t live there now, so will stay with my sister in law after I leave the hospital. But after that I’m not sure what we will do. I’m worried and afraid that I have no home to take my baby to. I want a good future for my baby. I want to be able to give her a good life".
ActionAid has given Patan hospital £50,000 to pay for medical equipment and medicine for a new operating theatre. This will help with surgeries including cesareans and other life-saving operations. One week after the earthquake, the staff at Patan hospital had delivered 160 babies, including 45 cesarean births.
Sun 3 May 14.48: Thousands of pregnant women are without care in Nepal. Many are giving birth in appalling conditions without basic medicines or support.
We've pledged £50,000 to Patan Hospital in Kathmandu, where 160 babies have been born since the earthquake. If you want to help us reach more pregnant women, and help make sure their babies are delivered safely, please donate now.
Baby Prajwal survived the Nepal quake, but thousands more are in danger
Sun 3 May 14.04: Watch this video diary from our reporter Natalie in Nepal. She met people in the remote commuity of Khokhana, who are too terrified to go back to their partially destroyed homes because of the risk of aftershocks.
Natalie talked to two new mothers who are worried about their babies, because they don't have enough water to mix for formula, or enough food to stay strong enough to breastfeed.
Thanks to the incredible generosity of our supporters, aid is getting through and we've reached thousands of people in Nepal already. But we need to do more. If you haven't had the chance to donate yet, please give to our appeal here.
Sun 3 May 12.10: A reminder of the destruction we're seeing everywhere we go - this school in Kot Danda is badly damaged and on the verge of collapse.
Sun 3 May 10.48: As ever, we do all our work with the help of local partners and volunteers. They're the best people to know exactly what the community needs. These volunteers have been amazing throughout this crisis.
Sun 3 May 10.37: These women live up in the mountains in Kot Danda, a 'vlllage in the sky'. 96 of the 114 houses here have been uninhabitable since the quake. We brought tents and shelter, and met women from the community.
To help us support doctors and nurses, and to get more supplies through for pregnant women and new mums, please donate now.
Sat 2 May 15:41: Today we met these beautiful baby twins Ujwal (in red) and Prajwal (in blue) who at just three months old are miraculous survivors of the earthquake.
Their mum, 26-year-old Sunita, was washing clothes when the quake stuck. Her husband Rajkumar ran inside the house to get the twins and luckily they all escaped alive.
3-month-old twins Ujwal (in red) and Prajwal (in blue) miraculously survived the earthquake.
As everyone in the UK is celebrating the safe birth of the royal baby, we're celebrating all the babies who have survived the earthquake. But mums like Rajkumar are facing the challenges of bringing up their children in far from royal surroundings.
Today we're in the village of Chapagaun helping Rajkumar and other women to care for their babies, by giving them the shelter, food and medical care they so desparately need.
Sat 2 May 11.33: As we hear news of the birth of the royal baby being born in the UK, our staff in Nepal are on their way to deliver urgently needed supplies to pregnant mothers in the village of Chapagaun (see map above).
Of the 8 million people who've been affected by the earthquake, there are an estimated 126,000 women who are pregnant. And 21,000 of these new mums will need obstetric care in the coming three months.
As Puza told us below, it's a terrifying time for mothers in Nepal to bring a baby into the world when they have lost their homes and scarcely have enough food to eat themselves, let alone to feed their newborn baby.
Fri 1 May 13.21: 29-year-old Puza is living in the same tent with Sabina, since the earthquake badly damaged her house. Puza's baby girl, Smirika, is just 6 weeks old.
Puza is trying to breastfeed her 6-week old baby daughter, but she's running out of food
Puza told us: "I'm worried that soon I won't be able to breastfeed. We don't have enough food, and I'm getting weaker.How can I survive if I'm not strong enough to feed my baby?
"Right now I'm only eating one meal a day of rice. I have to breastfeed Smirika up to 15 times a day. We are staying in a tent with 30 people. I feel so uncomfortable breastfeeding in front of them all".
We're getting supplies through to mums like Puza, but we need to do more. A small donation from you could make all the difference.Please give now.
Fri 1 May 13.12: We met 27-year-old Sabina and her 3-month-old baby boy Creation today. They're living in a tent with 30 other people since the earthquake destroyed their home in Khokhana.
Sabina and her 3-month-old baby boy have been living in a tent with 30 other people since the earthquake destroyed their home
Fri 1 May 12.46: Children are so resilient. Despite what they've been through, they're still smiling.
Thurs 30 Apr 17.24: This is what our aid packages look like. This one is stacked up in a classroom waiting to be distrubuted to the local community. It contains 2,500 kilograms of rice, 140 kilos of lentils, 25 kilos of salt, and some basic medicines. We delivered it today with the help of a local committee in Panga village.
ActionAid packages full of rice, lentils and medicine for Nepal earthquake survivors
We need your help to get more packages like this to remote communities in Nepal. Even a small donation makes a massive difference.
Thurs 30 Apr 16.23:Are you following Action Aid on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram? Lots more pictures and stories coming through from Nepal.
Thurs 30 Apr 15.20: In Panga village in the Kathmandu valley, 4-year-old Krishla and her 7-year old sister Kristina were playing with a friend in the courtyard of their home when the quake stuck.
The children all piled up one on top of each other, and the house collapsed on them. They were rescued 30 minutes later, to find their friend was dead. Three days after the quake, parents Rama and Lakshman visited the house for the first time.
Thurs 30 Apr 14.32: The team met 72-year-old Sundaya earlier today in the remote village of Phalame, where all 150 homes were flattened by the earthquake.
Sundaya and her family lost three houses. In this picture she's trying to comfort her cow Lakshmi, who is buried underneath her cowshed, beyond rescue. Sundaya told us: "She (Lakshmi) used to give my household 7 litres of milk, she was our sustenance".
Thurs 30 Apr 13.50: We know that women and children are the hardest hit in emergencies like this. They're often leaders of their communities too. That's why we work with women, during any emergency response and long afterwards, to make sure their needs are met and that we can help them rebuild their lives.
Thurs 30 Apr 11.05: Almost every street in Kathmandu is covered in bricks and rubble. The woman in the picture below told us about the family who lived opposite her in this street.
The inside of their house collapsed and three generations of women were killed. The men were safe because they were farmers and living in the fields.
3 generations of women were killed when this house collapsed after the earthquake
This woman is living under a tarpaulin in her neighbours' garden now with her two grandchildren - a couple of young boys who support Arsenal football club. It's cold at night and the buildings all around them are unsafe.
Thurs 30 Apr 09.00: People are queuing to fill water containers so their families have enough to drink.
People queue to fill water containers in Kathmandu
Thurs 30 Apr 08.20: Aid deliveries are getting through to Kathmandu. This truck has come in from 600km away in another part of Nepal, bringing much needed clean water to the people who lost their homes in the capital. They've driven throughout the night. People are still sleeping outside, and it's rained heavily overnight.
Wed 29 Apr 12.24: In rural areas near the epicenter, 90% of people have lost their homes and livestock, and have no way of getting food.
And in Kathmandu the situation is still desperate. People are still being pulled from the rubble. Volunteers have been working round the clock. Hospitals can't cope with the numbers of people who need medical attention.
Nepalese army members search for survivors in the city of Buaktapur, 8km from Kathmandu
Wed 29 Apr 10.20: In case you didn't know what's inside our aid deliveries, they include urgent medical supplies; including disinfectant, first aid kits, medicines, sanitary towels and soap. And today they're going to 2,500 people.
Wed 29 Apr 07.32: Finally some good news. Bimal reports that "after three and half days, no tremors have been experienced in the last 18 hours. It rained till yesterday afternoon, which caused problems, but it stopped from the evening. This morning: a bright day, good sunshine."
Day 4: Rain makes rescue relief difficult but we're getting through
Tues 28 Apr 17.44: As of right now, 8 million people in 39 districts in Nepal are affected by the earthquake.
Over 1.4 million people desperately need food. Of these, 750,000 people live near the epicentre of the quake in unsafe housing.
Power throughout Kathmandu is limited, with most households and offices mainly relying on generator power. Although the road between the airport and Kathmandu city is open and viable, access to many of the affected areas is very difficult.
More rainfall is predicted for the next ten days. We need to get more emergency kits to people. Please donate here.
Tues 28 Apr 16.36: We're planning tomorrow's distribution to 2,500 people in Khokana and Paanga (just outside Kathmandu), consisting of:
Non-perishable food (rice, lentils and salt) for one week
Disinfectant kits for cleaning
Women's sanitary wear
First aid kits and medicines (including paracetamol, antiseptics).
Tues 28 Apr 16.03: More photos coming through of people sheltering in makeshift tents in Khokana.
Earthquake survivors are crammed into makeshift tents
Tues 28 Apr 15.45: As the death toll passes 4,600, we're planning tomorrow's aid delivery to Sindhupalchok, the most devastated district so far, where at least 2,000 people are reported dead.
We're also trying to get in touch with our partners based in Rasuwa district but it's very difficult to communicate - roads are blocked due to landslides.
Tues 28 Apr 14.20: ActionAid team members report that people are sleeping rough on every road and junction, and there is rubble everywhere.
Destroyed buildings and rubble are everywhere
A critical fear is for the health of people sleeping on the streets with cold nights, and clean water shortages.
Bimal Phnuyal, ActionAid Nepal’s Country Director told us:
“The rain is making the lives of people in shelters even more difficult, and is also making relief-delivery challenging.”
Tues 28 Apr 13.30: We've arranged an interview with ITV lunchtime news for Tom live from Kathmandu (thanks to the power of Twitter and our rapid response news team!). Tom describes what he's witnessing and tells viewers about our response.
ActionAid's Tom in Kathmandu talking to ITV news about our response
He says the biggest worries right now are the threat of persisent heavy rain making rescue and recovery more difficult, and life more miserable for survivors who are sleeping out in the open.
He reports there is debris everywhere, including bricks, wood, twisted metal and electric cables.
Destroyed buildings and rubble are everywhere in Kathmandu
Tues 28 Apr 10.00: We've delivered non-perishable food (noodles and rice), and some mats and tarpualins to 500 survivors in Badikhel, inLailtpur district, south of Kathmandu.
Tues 28 Apr 09.15: We hear from Amar Nayak in Nepal. He's managed to get an internet connection and best of all tells us that staff are already distributing emergency supplies. Details to follow.
Day 3: Death toll rising and communication is scarce
Monday 27 April: The reported death toll has risen to 3,500, with many more injured. Survivors are facing aftershocks and the risk of being trapped and injured by falling rubble.
National World Heritage Centre Kastamundup collapsed after the earthquake
We've been working round the clock since the earthquake struck on Saturday to mobilise our emergency response.
That means fundraising here in the UK, sending our expert resilience teams to Nepal and most of all working with our partners on the ground in Kathmandu and the worst-affected areas in Nepal to assess what communities most need from us right now.
But communications are extremely limited and we've had only scant contact with our local team.
Staff in Nepal have been sleeping and working outside since Saturday, as are most of Kathmandu’s inhabitants. People whose homes haven’t been destroyed are too scared of aftershocks to go back inside.
Nepal's earthquake has caused many flats to collapse in Kathmandu, leaving thousands of people homeless.
Many people have been made homeless and are living outdoors in urgent need of emergency supplies, food and water. The hospitals are overflowing, meaning thousands of people who’ve been hurt are out in the streets desperate to be given medical attention.
Communications are down and little is known about the situation in remote areas, but our staff are on the ground working to make sure we get emergency aid to people as quickly as possible.
What we're doing to help
ActionAid has already pulled together to start our emergency response work. ActionAid Nepal has previously been heavily involved in earthquake preparedness training.
Our office works in some of the most affected areas and immediately took leadership of our in-country emergency response. Our skilled international experts are also attempting to reach the earthquake zone.
But the need is huge. The first phase of the emergency response will be to provide immediate relief to the injured and homeless who are still coming out from the rubble.
The second phase will be to provide help to protect people from the threat of disease and hunger and to provide safe and secure shelter.
We will never know who most of those who died were, but I've been reading the testimony of some of those who have made the crossing and it's harrowing.
Moath fled political oppression in Eritrea and told the BBC how he, his wife and baby daughter risked everything. His was just one of many small families who daily face rape, beatings, murder, even dying of thirst in the Sahara desert to reach Libya before making the dangerous Mediterranean crossing.
ActionAid does not run relief programmes in Europe. Instead we concentrate our efforts on women and children living in poverty in countries such as Nigeria and Bangladesh or escaping conflict in Syria. Through those efforts, we work to change lives for good.
But as ActionAid’s Head of Humanitarian Response I regularly meet people just like Moath living in refugee camps across the Middle East and sub Saharan Africa.
Risking lives to make the sea crossing
With limited prospects in countries being torn apart by fighting, civil war and the consequences of poverty – and with legal opportunities for migration completely closed off – many gamble their life savings and their lives against hazardous desert and sea crossings in the hope of a better future.
While it is true that the criminal gangs behind these sea crossings bear a huge responsibility for what amounts to mass murder, it is not enough to simply shift all of the blame onto the people smugglers who herd desperate people into unseaworthy boats to make the voyage to Europe.
This weekend's drowning of 900 migrants is also Europe’s political disgrace and the world’s shame.
The increase in deaths was predicted
The truth is that the latest tragedy is not just a shocking loss but entirely expected. The steady increase in deaths at sea was predicted last year when European governments, including the UK, decided rescuing people was a ‘pull’ factor and that scaling back search and rescue operations would discourage potential migrants.
This was a deliberate decision to defend borders – to create a Fortress Europe – rather than address the more difficult underlying causes of the migration crisis. It allowed people to die as a result.
Furthermore, as a direct consequence of this decision, the risk of a migrant drowning at sea has tripled since last year.
On 27 May, the European Commission will adopt a new agenda on migration. Yet we cannot stand by for another month whilst people die every day in the Mediterranean. Even before this summit, Europe’s governments must:
Restart the search and rescue missions as a matter of urgency.
Commit to joint political and financial responsibility across Europe for the rescue operations.
Respect the rights of the migrants and asylum seekers under international humanitarian law.
Once this is done, and only once this is done, can we consider the next steps.
Giving potential migrants a choice
Next steps means not just tackling the people traffickers and failed states that allow gangs to operate with impunity, but also giving people choices; the choice to live a life of dignity and security and the right to a home. This can only be done by contributing to ending conflict and by tackling extreme poverty and vulnerability.
The communities we help in countries like Bangladesh or Ethiopia, as well as the refugees we work with fleeing conflict in places like Syria, always remind us that they do not want to see their young men and women leaving home and heading off for the uncertainties of illegal migration. They simply want the opportunity to escape poverty.
We can not stand by and let people die in pursuit of this basic right.
For the first time ever, ActionAid is heading to Latitude Festival to change lives for good with thousands of festival-goers, and hopefully you too.
As an ActionAid volunteer, you’ll get a free ticket to the festival, chat to people about our work with women and girls in extreme poverty across the world, snap photos of happy festival-goers who show their support, and help to host creative workshops from the brand new ActionAid tent.