Statement: Structured dialogue with D. Avramopoulos

Dear chair, dear Mr. Avramopoulos,

I want to focus on the human catastrophe on the Mediterranean, which is the deadliest boarder in the world meanwhile. The death rate in the Mediterranean is higher than ever before. One of the reasons for this is the blockade of the ports by the Italian government. The Interior Minister Salvini bans not only private rescue ships, but also cargo ships and his own naval ships carrying refugees from entering Italian ports. Since Salvini of the extreme-right Lega party started as Interior minister in June, the death toll of refugees has risen – from approximately 3 dead to 8 dead per day. The number of unreported cases is far higher.

What are you doing, what is the Commission doing to ensure that Italy does its duty and reopens its ports?

Furthermore currently three rescue ships run by civil sea rescue organisations are arrested in Malta without a legal basis. I was there last week to look at their current situation. The mainly voluntary workers are prevented from rescuing refugees who are drowning a few kilometres away in the Mediterranean.

Mr Avramopoulos, what are you doing to ensure that these ships can return to the search and rescue zone where they are badly needed as soon as possible? Are you in negotiations with the Maltese authorities to find out the legal basis for the detention of the ship Sea-Watch 3?

Sea rescue organisations that take on the EU’s role are being criminalised and pilloried. But on the other side: You know well that the European Parliament nominated the search and rescue organisations for the sacharow-prize. What is your opinion, Commissioner, of such people being accused in court?
The Commission shares responsibility for the deaths of thousands of people in the Mediterranean. The time has come to initiate an EU civil sea rescue programme as for example we had with Mare Nostrum from Italy. I also call on the Commission to submit proposals for legal and safe routes to Europe immediately. The increase in Frontex’ financial and personal resources and the related continued policy of closure is the completely wrong approach and it won`t bring the human catastrophe on the Mediterranean to an end. We must protect human beings rather than boarders.

The Commission shares responsibility for the deaths of thousands of people in the Mediterranean. The time has come to initiate an EU civil sea rescue programme as for example we had with Mare Nostrum from Italy. I also call on the Commission to submit proposals for legal and safe routes to Europe immediately. The increase in Frontex’ financial and personal resources and the related continued policy of closure is the completely wrong approach and it won`t bring the human catastrophe on the Mediterranean to an end. We must protect human beings rather than boarders.