from AHMED ZAYED in Tripoli, Libya
TRIPOLI, (CAJ News) – MORE than 1 200 people have died in the Mediterranean Sea this year as they attempt to cross to Europe.
This adds to the 25 000 deaths recorded since 2014.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) believes while the endless tragedy has many causes, the decision of European Union (EU) governments to prioritise border control over sea rescue is central.
“The European Union has abdicated its responsibility to ensure search and rescue in the Mediterranean,” said Judith Sunderland, HRW Associate Director: Europe and Central Asia Division.
She pointed out that Frontex, the EU’s border and coast guard, conducted aerial surveillance in service of interceptions and returns, not rescues.
“Despite overwhelming evidence of horrific detention and abuse of migrants in Libya, the EU supports the Libyan forces’ efforts to detect boats and pull people back,” Sunderland added.
HRW argued in the absence of meaningful safe and legal channels, persistence of conflicts, rights violations and hardships that push people to flee, EU states and institutions should act now to protect life at sea and ensure predictable disembarkation in places of safety.
“Deterrence by drowning and dehydration is abominable,” Sunderland said.
A majority of migrants desperate to reach Europe access the Mediterranean via Libya.
Most get trapped in the political turmoil ravaging the country over the past decade and are detained in horrendous conditions.
– CAJ News