EU leaders fail to address humanitarian crisis in Mediterranean, says Amnesty

Responding to last night’s announcements from European leaders to address the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean, Steve Symonds, Amnesty UK’s Refugees and Migrants Programme Director, said:

“David Cameron and the other EU leaders have not addressed the problem. It is a smoke screen.

“The move overnight is not about saving thousands of lives. It is about short-term politics.

“EU leaders have not changed the mandate of the sea border patrolling operation they introduced late last year. There is no promise of an effective search and rescue operation.

“Last year, without support and under pressure from EU governments including the UK, Italy withdrew the search and rescue programme. This year we have seen a dramatic rise in the number of desperate people drowning in the Mediterranean.

“The new promises will focus on borders and areas 30 nautical miles off the Italian coastline. Yet a vast majority of the deaths happen much further out.

“What is the point of a hosepipe if it doesn’t reach the fire.

“When boats are in distress, time is critical. A boat can go down in minutes. If it takes twice as long to reach the boat the risk of drowning is greatly increased.

“Without a proper search and rescue mission, the new promises will not stop the humanitarian tragedy.”  

Map showing the Operation Triton coverage and recent shipwrecks


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