Europe under fire amid more Mediterranean drownings


Migrants drowning at the Mediterranean Sea. Photo by AFP

from AHMED ZAYED in Tripoli, Libya
Libya Bureau
TRIPOLI, (CAJ News) – THE death of at least 30 more people in the Mediterranean is an indictment of Europe’s hostile migration policies at sea.

This tragedy, disclosed to have occurred last weekend, comes a fortnight after Italian authorities failed to rescue a boat in distress 150 metres from its coast near Crotone.

Over 81 people, including 33 children, resultantly drowned.

In the most recent tragedy Libyan and Maltese are said to have been alerted to the location of 47 people in distress in a wooden boat adrift in dangerous weather conditions in international waters.

At the time the boat was within the vast Libyan Search and Rescue Area, the establishment of which Italy and the EU had pushed for in an effort to evade their duties under international law to rescue migrants in distress and disembark them in a place of safety.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports that instead, the area has facilitated their interception by the abusive Libyan coastguard and return to Libya, where they face gross and systematic human rights violations.

Giulia Tranchina, HRW researcher for Europe and Central Asia, said for 27 hours, the Italian authorities refused to intervene and instructed nearby vessels not to do so either and to liaise with the Libyan authorities.

“Despite having received patrol boats and hundreds of millions of euros from Italy and the EU, the abusive Libyan coastguard failed to come to the rescue,” the activist said.

Seventeen (17) people survived when the boat eventually capsized.

“This is only the latest tragedy caused by Italy’s and the EU’s intentional breaches of their duties under international law, the criminalization and obstruction of humanitarian rescue ships, and an extensive cooperation with Libyan authorities to intercept and return migrants and refugees to Libya,” Tranchina said.

The official warned that until Italy and other European Union member states and institutions stopped aiding Libyan authorities in their abusive actions, allow rescue ships to conduct rescues, revoke the Libyan Search and Rescue area and launch a state-led search and rescue mission in the Mediterranean, they will share responsibility for more deaths at sea.

Most migrants eager to reach Europe for greener pastures travel through the conflict-laden Libya.

– CAJ News

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