09. Juni 2017 · Kommentare deaktiviert für Blaming the Rescuers · Kategorien: Mittelmeer · Tags: ,

Blaming the Rescuers


Aiming to deter migrants from crossing the Mediterranean, the EU and its member states pulled back from rescue at sea at the end of 2014, leading to record numbers of deaths. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) were forced to deploy their own rescue missions in a desperate attempt to fill this gap and reduce casualties. Today, NGOs are under attack, wrongly accused of ‘colluding with smugglers’, ‘constituting a pull-factor’ and ultimately endangering migrants. This report refutes these accusations through empirical analysis. It is written to avert a looming catastrophe: if NGOs are forced to stop or reduce their operations, many more lives will be lost to the sea.

It has been two years since more than 1,200 people perished at sea in the 12 and 18 April 2015 shipwrecks – the largest to have been documented in recent Mediterranean history. These deaths, as we demonstrated in the report Death by Rescue published last year,   were the result of the termination of the Italian Mare Nostrum operation, which had patrolled close to the Libyan coast to rescue migrants in distress. The end of Mare Nostrum left a gap in Search and Rescue (SAR) capabilities that was meant to deter migrants and instead led to a staggering increase in deaths at sea in early 2015. In the wake of this harrowing loss of life, even the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, was obliged to admit that “it was a serious mistake to bring the Mare Nostrum operation to an end. It cost human lives”. […]

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