On Wednesday, members of the European Parliament will debate the recent cases of people who drowned while fleeing across the Mediterranean Sea. In recent weeks, it has become apparent that rescues are being deliberately delayed and that many people could be saved. For example, on Sunday there was a shipwreck in which Italian authorities did not initiate a rescue from a ship in distress for more than 24 hours, even though ships were nearby. Thirty people died, and only 17 were rescued. At least 383 people have already died fleeing the Mediterranean this year.
The mass deaths in the Mediterranean Sea are increasingly becoming a political failure of the EU. On Sunday, 30 people drowned again because no rescue was initiated for more than 24 hours after their distress call. There would have been many ways to save the people in time, but the Italian authorities let them die.
Victim of failure to render assistance
The people have not only become victims of boat accidents, they are victims of a failure to provide assistance. If EU states accept the death of people on the Mediterranean Sea for their political goals, the EU might as well declare moral insolvency. EU states are obliged under international law to rescue people in distress at sea. But they should also be proud of saving human lives. Instead of finally facing up to their responsibility and rescuing people in distress at sea with all the means at their disposal, aid organizations are being harassed.
The dying can come to an end. In addition to sea rescue, there must be safe and legal escape routes, a structured EU asylum system, fairer distribution and a serious fight against the causes of flight. The EU Commission must give up its blockade on funding sea rescue. Those who claim to want to prevent dying must not block the allocation of funds for sea rescue. You can find my speech in parliament here.