Deaths fol­low res­cue boat ban

Cape Times - - WORLD NEWS -

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)

PIC­TURE: MIKENNY KARPOV

More than 600 peo­ple at­tempt­ing to cross the Cen­tral Mediter­ranean have drowned, in­clud­ing ba­bies and tod­dlers.

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