Distress rescue in the Mediterranean: Why doesn't dying stop?

The Mediterranean remains a mass grave for migrants. Which routes for refugees are there, who provides help and why are there problems again and again?

Distress rescue in the Mediterranean: Why doesn't dying stop?
Content
  • Page 1 — why doesn't it stop dying?
  • Page 2 — smugglers benefit from rescue
  • Page 3 — naval ships withdraw from rescue
  • Read on a page

    No one will leave home unless home is a shark's mouth, writes Somali poet Warsan Shire, who now lives in Britain. And no one will put ir own children in a boat unless water is safer than land.

    Even 2018 more than 45,000 people have tried to come across Mediterranean to Europe. About a thousand died at crossing. This is what current data from UNHCR refugee facility shows. The number is low compared to previous years. Neverless, for many migrants, Mediterranean remains most important route to Europe – and will be grave for some of m.

    How do refugees still get to Europe?

    Most of 70 million people who are fleeing world are not making ir way to Europe. They seek refuge within ir own country or neighbouring countries. Only one sixth flees into more prosperous areas.

    For people who want to go from Africa or Middle East to Europe, journey over Mediterranean is often only option. If you come from West Africa, Tunisia or Eritrea, land is blocked anyway. But also people from Syria and Iraq, also main origin of refugees in Europe, come across difficult barriers to overcome. Since Slovenia, Hungary and Macedonia have built fences on ir sourn borders, Balkan route is largely closed. An agreement between EU and Turkey will also ensure that only a few refugees can come from re to west.

    There are two commonly used routes across Mediterranean: first, Western Mediterranean route from Morocco to Spain, and secondly central Mediterranean route from Libya to Italy. Since 2015, number of refugees arriving from Libya to Italy has fallen sharply. Neverless, hardly any seaworthy boats are still breaking up from Libyan coast. Many of m are in distress after a few nautical miles.

    What happens to shipwrecked?

    International maritime law obliges every sailor to rescue shipwrecked, no matter where y come from. There are many very different ships in sea area between Libya and Italy: Italian and Libyan coast guards, EU naval vessels, private rescue ships from relief agencies such as MSF, Save Children, sea-watch or Lifeline. In addition, re are cargo ships crossing area. They all take part in rescue operations.

    The Maritime Rescue Coordination Center (MRCC) in Rome coordinates rescue in central Mediterranean. If an emergency call reaches MRCC, emergency call centre sends nearest ship to rescue. From re, private rescue ships also receive ir orders.

    However, it is controversial in which areas private rescuers are allowed to become active. It is clear that y may not be sent to Libyan 12-mile sovereign zone unless y are explicitly dispatched re. However, last summer, Libya expanded its maritime rescue zone from 12 to 72 nautical miles in its own right and warned ships of aid agencies against international law to cross it.

    The private rescuers in turn argue with law of right, for example in currently much discussed case of lifeline. Lifeline is a private rescue ship. The ship is supposed to have injured refugees, although Libyan coast Guard should take over this task. The captain of Lifeline argues that Coast Guard has been too far away to be able to be in time on spot. That's why Lifeline helped.

    Updated Date: 29 June 2018, 12:01

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