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Italy: Tragic deaths at sea must be wake-up call for European governments to set up safe routes for migrants

© ANSA/AFP via Getty Images

Responding to the tragic shipwreck off the coast of Steccato di Cutro, Italy, in which at least 62 migrants, including children, lost their lives, Eve Geddie, Amnesty International’s Europe Director of Advocacy, said:

“The grief and horror felt by all of us over these tragic deaths must be channelled into action by European governments, who must ensure that there are safe and legal routes for people to reach the EU.

“How many more lives must be lost before European policy makers see that blocking safe and legal routes and criminalising rescue workers does not stop people making these journeys - it just makes them even more perilous.

“Instead of making Europe’s borders even more unwelcoming by pushing people back and criminalising NGO rescuers who attempt to save lives at sea, European governments should focus on ensuring safe passage for migrants.”

Criminalising NGO rescuers 

On 15 February, lawmakers in Italy approved stricter legislation for charities that rescue migrants at sea, so they could face fines or have their ships impounded if they do not follow the rules.

On 23 February, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) rescue ship, the Geo Barents, was impounded for 20 days and they were told they will be fined 10 thousand euros.

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