25 January 2017 – The increasing number of people in need of international protection perishing on their way to safety is a sinister reminder of the limitations of the current international protection regime. Entitlements to the rights recognised by international and regional protection systems, including under the EU’s Common European Asylum System (CEAS), are accessible only to those who manage to reach the physical borders of the host state. Left without any accessible legal alternatives and confronted with ever stricter border controls reaching far beyond European territory, those in need of international protection are forced to resort to irregular ways to access it. The absence of legal channels for refugees to come to Europe has led to a boom of smuggling in human beings and is exposing refugees and migrants to abuse and exploitation. This is illustrated by the increasing number of migration-related deaths and disappearances at sea. According to the latest UNHCR and IOM statistics, more than 5,000 persons were reported dead or missing in the Mediterranean alone in 2016, thus remaining the deadliest migratory sea route worldwide in 2016.