Saving drowning people, a crime?


This 13 August 2018 by the (right-wing) Daily Mail from Britain says about itself:

Rescue ship Aquarius saves 141 migrants off Libyan coast

More than 140 migrants rescued by an aid group as they drifted in the Mediterranean have claimed five ships passed them by without plucking them to safety.

According to international law, all ships are obliged to save people at sea in distress.

The migrants, including 67 unaccompanied minors, were mainly from Somalia and Eritrea and were believed to have been at sea for about 35 hours on a small wooden boat that had no motor.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Ship Aquarius stops its Mediterranean rescue missions

The rescue ship Aquarius is no longer operating in the Mediterranean. Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) who manage the ship together with partner SOS Méditerranée reports this.

Since 2016, tens of thousands of migrants on their way to Europe have been rescued from the water or from often not seaworthy boats.

Ideally, Médecins Sans Frontières would like to continue with the Aquarius, but the organization says that Italy has made it impossible. “The Italian government, supported by other European countries, has labeled our aid as illegal, smeared it and blocked it by withdrawing the registration of the ship, so the Aquarius can not sail.”

So, apparently, the xenophobia of Mussolini-loving Italian deputy Prime Minister Salvini of the extreme right Northern League party is the ‘new normal’ of the European Union.

‘Black day’

Director Nelke Manders of Médecins Sans Frontières calls this a black day. “Stopping the Aquarius means that people will die avoidably at sea”, she says.

The Aquarius was the last rescue ship to sail off the coast of Libya until September. Last year there were five organizations with ships active in that area. The Aquarius has been in the port of Marseille since October, because the ship lost its Panamanian flag registration.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) says that more than 2000 people drowned in the Mediterranean this year.

There are still ships stopping refugees’ small boats in the Mediterranean. However, these are not the Aquarius or other rescue ships. They are warships of Salvini and his NATO allies. They will either let the refugees drown, contrary to international law; or bring the refugees back to Libya. Back to the Libyan hell of slavery, torture prisons and militias killing each other and civilians.

More than 250 immigrants have drowned in the Mediterranean since the beginning of the year. The Italian government and European Union’s (EU’s) policies bear direct responsibility for this grim record. Last weekend alone, no fewer than 170 people lost their lives while crossing the Mediterranean. On Saturday, the crew of Sea-Watch 3 managed to rescue 47 immigrants, including eight children, from a shipwrecked boat. The Sea-Watch 3 is currently the only NGO rescue ship still active in the Mediterranean. The Maltese government has refused to allow crews to be changed on another ship, the Professor Albrecht Penck owned by Sea-Eye, effectively preventing it from carrying out its work: here.

8 thoughts on “Saving drowning people, a crime?

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