Deaths follow rescue boat ban
MEDITERRANEAN SEA: Over 600 people attempting to cross the central Mediterranean have drowned or are presumed drowned in the past four weeks – these include babies and toddlers.
The tragedies, which represent half of the total deaths so far in 2018, took place as there were no longer NGO rescue boats active in the central Mediterranean.
A month ago the search and rescue ship Aquarius, run by SOS Méditerranée in partnership with Doctors Without Borders (MSF), was blocked by Italian authorities from disembarking 630 people rescued at sea. Further blockages and obstruction of NGO rescue ships by European states followed.
“The European political decisions that have been taken during the past weeks have had deadly consequences. There has been a cold-blooded decision to leave men, women and children to drown in the Mediterranean Sea.
“This is outrageous and unacceptable” said Karline Kleijer, MSF head of emergencies.
While NGO rescue ships operating in the international waters between Malta, Italy and Libya have been accused of being a pull factor by European politicians, recent events at sea show that desperate people continue to flee Libya, regardless of whether or not there are rescue ships.
Violence, poverty and conflict are pushing people to risk their lives and those of their children.
European governments are fully aware of the alarming levels of violence and exploitation suffered by refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants in Libya, but are determined to prevent people from reaching Europe at all costs.
“The political decision to close ports to disembarkations of people rescued at sea, and the total confusion in the Central Mediterranean has led to increased mortality on the world’s deadliest sea crossing,” said Sophie Beau, vice-president of SOS Méditerranée.
“Europe bears the responsibility of these deaths. European governments must react and guarantee that the international maritime and humanitarian laws framing the obligation to rescue people in distress at sea are fullyrespected.” – MSF/ African News Agency (ANA)
More than 600 people attempting to cross the Central Mediterranean have drowned, including babies and toddlers.