from AHMED ZAYED in Tripoli, Libya
TRIPOLI, (CAJ News) – HUMAN rights groups and non-governmental organizations are blaming European governments for the continued drownings in the Mediterranean routes.
The latest incident saw the deaths of at least 63 migrants—including an infant and children—off the coast of southern Italy on Sunday.
Jeremy Konyndyk, Refugees International President, declined to accept this as an accident.
“It is an outcome that flows directly from European Union (EU) and Italian migration policies that have made the Mediterranean routes more dangerous by design, in order to deter migration,” he said.
Konyndyk noted over the past decade, EU policy had pushed migrants toward increasingly dangerous migration routes while obstructing lifesaving rescue operations.
According to the official, the latest tragedy comes just days after Italy’s parliament passed a new law making it more difficult for non-governmental organization (NGO) to conduct rescues at sea.
Subsequently, Médecins Sans Frontières’ (MSF) rescue ship, the Geo Barents, was impounded for 20 days and crew told they will be fined €10 000.
This was also on the heels of Greece attempting to prosecute NGO staff for serving on rescue operations.
“Rather than deterring asylum seekers, these policies simply endanger more people and increase the risks of migrants drowning,” said Konyndyk, who forecast more incidents like this were inevitable.
“If Europe can absorb millions of Ukrainian refugees when it chooses to, tragedies like this one should not be allowed to occur,” said Konyndyk.
Last week, more than 60 migrants drowned and dozens went missing after their overloaded boat sank off the Libyan coast.
Eve Geddie, Amnesty International’s Europe Director of Advocacy, also responded to the deaths this past weekend.
“The grief and horror felt by all of us over these tragic deaths must be channelled into action by European governments, who must ensure that there are safe and legal routes for people to reach the EU,” Geddie said.
The activist argued European policy makers must realize that blocking safe and legal routes and criminalizing rescue workers does not stop people making these journeys.
“It just makes them even more perilous,” Geddie said.
“Instead of making Europe’s borders even more unwelcoming by pushing people back and criminalizing NGO rescuers who attempt to save lives at sea, European governments should focus on ensuring safe passage for migrants.”
The Mediterranean is feared as a “cemetery” because of the incessant drowning.
A high number of the deceased depart from Libya.
– CAJ News