European leaders must move beyond political grandstanding to ensure robust and multi-country search and rescue.
European Summit: Leaders decide between life and death in the Mediterranean
(Brussels, 23 April 2015) Amnesty International and other civil society representatives were joined by a sea of activists in the European quarter of Brussels this afternoon. Over 1200 people lined the streets in front of the European Council to shine the light on Europe’s shameful response to the spiralling death toll in the Mediterranean. Together they demanded that European Union (EU) governments urgently reinstate a robust and multi-country search and rescue operation in the high seas to save lives.
The demonstration was organised in less than 48 hours to coincide with the emergency meeting in Brussels where European Union (EU) leaders are currently discussing their response to the crisis in the Mediterranean, where in the last week alone 1000 people have drowned.
Speaking at the demonstration, and in response to leaked draft Council Conclusions, acting director for Amnesty International European Institutions Office Iverna McGowan said, “What we’re seeing coming from the Council is a pathetic proposal that falls woefully short of what is needed. European leaders must move beyond political grandstanding to ensure robust and multi-country search and rescue. Such a humanitarian operation must at a minimum match Italy’s Mare Nostrum which they cancelled at the cost of lives! They still can do the right thing.”
The march began at Place de la Liberté and ended in Schuman, the heart of the European Quarter. Refugees and migrants, civil society, and activists stood in solidarity beside coffins representing the many thousands of people who have needlessly lost their lives in the Mediterranean.
The demonstration was just one of many that Amnesty International held across Europe this week on the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean.
Photographs can be accessed here. Copyright Amnesty International.
For more information on the march, please see our media advisory.
Please also see Amnesty International’s latest report on the crisis in the Mediterranean and the gaps in search and rescue, Europe’s Sinking Shame: The failure to save refugees and migrants at sea.
Iverna McGowan will be available for interview in the margins of the Council, and following the release of the final Council Conclusions.
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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