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Italy: Urgent need for coordinated refugee search and rescue efforts

In response to reports that an NGO ship carrying refugees and migrants rescued in the central Mediterranean is not being allowed to dock, Steve Valdez-Symonds, Amnesty International UK’s Refugee and Migrant Rights Director said:

“European governments are once more revealing where their true priorities lie: namely shutting off the central Mediterranean route, with scant regard to the suffering caused.

“Europe’s first responsibility should be to ensure that the women, men and children who are escaping violence, torture and exploitation in Libya and are in danger at sea are rescued, and brought safely to land.

“Through its recent actions and stated intention to “close Italian ports to NGO ships”, the Italian government is harming search and rescue. This can only discourage rescues and expose both rescued and rescuers to unnecessary risks and suffering.

“This month has already seen 233 lives lost in the central Mediterranean. The urgent need for coordinated and collective search and rescue efforts, including the vital contribution of NGO charity ships, remains as important as ever.    

“European leaders must now agree on how to share responsibility for asylum claims in a way that is fair, efficient and humane.”

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