IFRC Vice-President to meet UN Secretary General on Mediterranean migration crisis

Published: 6 May 2015

06 May 2015, New York / Geneva – The Vice-President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Francesco Rocca will meet today with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to discuss the ongoing and worsening migration crisis in the Mediterranean Sea.

Mr Rocca is also the President of the Italian Red Cross which has been at the frontline of the humanitarian response to the crisis in southern Italy, supporting thousands of people as they arrive in Lampedusa, Catania and elsewhere.

Overnight, we received reports of another boat that capsized off the coast of Sicily,” said Mr Rocca. “It is believed that dozens of people have drowned; another catastrophe in a year of too many tragedies. This latest incident means that, since the start of the year, more than 1,800 people have died crossing the Mediterranean. This is 20 times more than at the same time as last year.”

We are left again feeling shocked and angry, because together with that capsized boat, a part of our soul has sunk as well.”

Since the beginning of 2015, more than 35,000 people from across Africa, Asia and  the Middle East have set off from Libya and from other points along the North African coast and embarked on a perilous journey across the Mediterranean Sea, often risking their lives on unsafe vessels

I bring with me our concern for a phenomenon that is inexorably linked to the conflicts and deprivations that people flee: a phenomenon that should not be forcibly repressed, but handled with humanity by putting human beings at the centre of every decision,” said Mr Rocca.

It is with that spirit that all the volunteers and staff of the Italian Red Cross continue to lend a hand to those who escape war and violence.”

In the past three days alone, Italian Red Cross volunteers in Sicily and Calabria have delivered humanitarian assistance to more than 4,000 people rescued by the Italian Coast Guard off the Libyan coasts. In Italy, Red Cross staff and volunteers are present in every port, providing first aid, food, drinking water, psychosocial support and logistical support to all arrivals.

Continued Mr Rocca: “Southern Italy is demonstrating outstanding solidarity, but it cannot make it on its own. We need the collaboration and political will of the entire international community, starting with Europe, which can and must offer safe and legal avenues for those who seek protection,” he said.

But this alone won’t be enough. Protecting people on the move is a collective responsibility. Anyone involved in these journeys – including authorities in countries of origin, transit and destination – have a fundamental duty to respect human dignity and to avoid any action that puts the lives of these people at risk,” he added.

Mr Rocca will be holding a press conference at the UN Headquaters in New York on 6 May 2015 at 1:15PM (NYC time)

For more information or to arrange for interviews, please contact:

In New York:

Laura Bastianetto, Spokesperson of the Italian Red Cross

Email: laura.bastianetto@cri.it  - Mobile: +39 320 7979485


In Geneva:

Benoit Matsha-Carpentier, Team Leader, Public Communications and Outreach, IFRC

E-mail: benoit.carpentier@ifrc.org  - Mobile: +41 79 213 2413

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest volunteer-based humanitarian network, reaching 150 mil­lion people each year through its 189 member National Societies. Together, the IFRC acts before, during and after disasters and health emergencies to meet the needs and improve the lives of vulnerable people. It does so with impartiality as to nationality, race, gender, religious beliefs, class and political opinions. For more information, please visit www.ifrc.org. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.


The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world's largest humanitarian organization, with 190 member National Societies . As part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, our work is guided by seven fundamental principles; humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality. About this site & copyright