25 September 2018
The Aquarius, a rescue vessel operating in the Mediterranean Sea, has had its registration revoked, stopping it from setting sail to rescue migrants in danger. It is the last private rescue ship operating in the area used for crossings from Libya to Europe.
Commenting on the news, European Green Party co-chairs Monica Frassoni and Reinhard Bütikofer said.
“The current system to intercept and rescue migrant ships in distress is clearly inadequate and until now, NGO operations have helped fill this void.
“Despite a dramatic drop in the number of refugees coming to Europe, the Mediterranean crossing is now more treacherous than ever. The decision to revoke the Aquarius’ license by the Panama Maritime Authority (PMA) will undoubtedly result in several hundreds of additional deaths at sea.
“Until a more adequate situation is put in place, every effort must be made to ensure that NGOs such as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and SOS Mediterranée who have been leasing the Aquarius can continue.
“If the Aquarius is forced to dock for a prolonged period, the EU must step up its efforts as part of the Frontex operation to guarantee that it is not complicit in willful negligence by turning a blind eye to the seriousness of the situation. According to the United Nations, more than 1,700 migrants have died trying to cross to Europe in 2018.
“Greens remain convinced that the EU and its Member States are fully capable of successfully managing this challenge in a humane and sensitive manner that respects individual human rights. It must now proceed to reopening legal and organised migration routes as part of the process to reform the Dublin regulation overseeing migration.
“Recently, there have been worrying signals from some member states backtracking on their responsibility to protect, such as a decree that passed in Italy on Monday making it easier to deport migrants and strip them of their Italian citizenship. Differences of opinion may remain on how to handle migration, but we must agree that we have a duty to do all we can to save innocent lives at sea.”
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