According to a leaked draft statement, European Union leaders meeting in Brussels this afternoon are expected to reject urgent calls for a major expansion of search and rescue operations across the Mediterranean. Instead the draft includes a doubling of Operation Triton and border-surveillance operations, which only patrol within 30 miles of the Italian and Maltese coasts, far from where most of the deaths occur. If adopted, such an operation would still fall far short of what was in place under Mare Nostrum.
“The leaked document falls woefully short of what is needed. European leaders meeting in Brussels have an opportunity and the responsibility to make right their colossal failures which continue to lead to deaths. The proposal on the table puts spin before lives. Doubling the budget for Operation Triton cannot fix this. What is needed is a change of objectives, operational area and more ships and aircraft,” said Gauri van Gulik, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.
“Focusing on patrolling Europe’s borders and ignoring the urgent need to save those who are drowning is an insult to the thousands who have died and a callous affront to those who have no choice but to make this perilous journey.”