Without a collective and concerted rescue mission, the European Agenda on Migration remains dangerously incomplete.
(Brussels, 4 March 2015) Today’s announcement by the European Commission to ensure a ‘holistic approach’ to addressing migration to Europe under the European Agenda on Migration by mid-May missed a vital piece of the puzzle regarding the protection of vulnerable migrants, said Amnesty International.
“We agree with the Commission that we need to move away from the ‘blame game’ to concrete action to address migration to Europe and the ensuing challenges. Safe and legal routes to Europe are a necessity. But without a collective and concerted rescue mission, the European Agenda on Migration remains dangerously incomplete,” said Iverna McGowan, Acting Director of Amnesty International European Institutions Office.
During a press briefing in Brussels, Dimitris Avramopoulos, European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, and Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission acknowledged the “sense of urgency” with which the European Union (EU) needs to respond to the reality of the rising number of migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees attempting to arrive in Europe.
Safe and legal routes were announced as part of the agenda, but there was no direct mention of ensuring an EU-wide search and rescue mission to respond to the growing numbers of deaths at sea, following the closure of Italy’s Operation Mare Nostrum.
“Today the Commission publicly recognised that Triton was not a replacement for Italy’s Mare Nostrum. They didn’t however indicate what could or should be done to fill the gap for this much needed search and rescue mission”, said Iverna McGowan.
The need for an EU-wide search and rescue mission matching at least that of Mare Nostrum in terms of mandate, resources and scope was tragically highlighted by recent events. In fewer than 24 hours the Italian coastguard coordinated seven rescue operations in the high seas off Libya. Ten bodies have been found so far.
European member states need to commit to providing a collective and concerted search and rescue operation deployed in the high seas of the Mediterranean along the main migratory routes. This is what the European Commission should call for under the European Agenda on Migration.
For further information, or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Head of Media & Communications
Amnesty International European Institutions Office
Email: [email protected]
Telephone: +32 (0)2 548 27 73
Mobile: +32 (0)483 680 812
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