Mediterranean drownings: EU leaders must 'show courage' to save lives

A migrant after rescue in the Mediterranean last year © REUTERS

European countries guilty of ‘pulling up the drawbridge’ rather than assisting in rescues 

Fears for survivors’ welfare after forced return to Libya 

Reacting to yesterday’s news that almost 150 people are believed to have drowned in the Mediterranean - and around the same number have been returned to Libya by the Libyan Coastguard, where they risk indefinite detention - Massimo Moratti, Amnesty International’s Europe Research Director, said:

“If reports that 150 people have drowned are confirmed, this represents the highest death toll from a shipwreck in the Mediterranean this year. 

“This high number represents a new low for European leaders. They have done everything they can to pull up the drawbridge to Europe - withdrawing search and rescue operations; criminalising NGO rescue boats; cooperating with the Libyan Coastguard - and yet people are still risking their lives to come to Europe.

“Despite the increasingly risky journey and the unspeakable obstacles, people attempting the crossing to Europe demonstrate enormous hope in a better future and enormous courage to make it happen. 

“We need to see European leaders show some courage too, and shift their approach to a humane one which saves lives and doesn’t condemn those who survive to detention in Libya.” 

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