Saving lives in the Mediterranean must be European governments’ priority

Picture: EPA/IVAN CONSIGLIO.

European governments must prioritize setting up an immediate search and rescue plan to prevent the escalating death toll of migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea, Amnesty International said ahead of a European Union (EU) foreign and interior ministers meeting in Luxembourg today.

“Refugees and migrants have been drowning off the coast of Libya at a rate of around 100 a week since the beginning of the year. This is a humanitarian crisis that needs an immediate and concerted European response, not more hand-wringing and denial,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Director.

Refugees and migrants have been drowning off the coast of Libya at a rate of around 100 a week since the beginning of the year. This is a humanitarian crisis that needs an immediate and concerted European response, not more hand-wringing and denial.
John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Director.

Hundreds of people are feared drowned after their boat capsized off the coast of Libya this weekend. Up to 1,600 people are now believed to have drowned this year alone.

“EU and European leaders have repeatedly spoken of the need for a holistic approach to this crisis, working with countries of origin and transit, and clamping down on people smugglers. These are important, but the immediate priority must be the immediate safety of refugees and migrants who will continue to make the perilous journey across the Mediterranean to Europe. Ministers must emerge from today’s meeting with a collective European search and rescue proposal.”