Mr. Speaker, over the weekend, hundreds of men, women, and children from Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Sudan sailed from Libya across the Mediterranean in search of sanctuary in Italy. Tragically, their vessel sank, and reportedly up to 400 people drowned in the Mediterranean. My thoughts and prayers are with those who lost their lives.
This comes on the first anniversary of a similar incident last year, in which 800 people drowned in the Mediterranean Sea.
Under the Geneva Conventions, those fleeing persecution are eligible for asylum, but they often face many obstacles. Asylum seekers are not criminals; they are human beings in need of protection and assistance and are deserving of our respect.
I urge Canada to provide leadership and work with our international partners to ensure that those fleeing persecution have safe passage to countries that may grant them the protection they are entitled to under international law.