Sea-Watch urges a quick solution for the 629 people on the Aquarius, to be brought to a place of safety. The dispute over migration must not be carried out on the back of people in distress. The current development with the Aquarius stuck at sea between Malta and Italy is worrying to us, as the Sea-Watch 3, also operating in search and rescue at the moment, could likely become next in line. Sea-Watch calls on the European states to immediately deploy sufficient rescue assets to the Mediterranean Sea and to abandon the Dublin III regulations in order to make way for a political solution to a situation brought about by their own evasion of responsibility.
Already during the weekend, a lack of rescue assets in the central Mediterranean Sea and the crackdown on search and rescue NGOs by Italian authorities, have led to a chaotic situation endangering hundreds in maritime distress. “It is simply unacceptable that policy is made at the expense of those in need” Sea-Watch chairman and head of the current operation on board of the Sea-Watch 3, Johannes Bayer, says. “With the ongoing good weather period, we are likely to be engaged in rescue today and so the next in the queue. We express our maximum solidarity with MSF, SOS Mediterrannée and the 629 rescued on the Aquarius.” Sea-Watch is grateful to the many initiatives and municipalities in Italy who stated that NGO vessels would be welcome in their ports. “We would especially like to thank Reggio Calabria, where we had a warm welcome by the locals and where we have safely disembarked 232 rescued people last Saturday. This gives us hope, but it is also up to other European states to help in finding a solution. In the absence of safe passage, people are forced to take the world’s most dangerous migration route in search of refuge. The current development with the Italian Minister of Interior closing the ports to people in distress is a direct result of the so-called Dublin III regulations and other European states leaving Italy to bear the brunt of this situation over the course of the past years”, Bayer says. “We should not forget what the people on our ships have gone through, often they are already completely exhausted when they board a smuggler’s boat and during their time at sea, their condition often deteriorates. They have to be brought to a place of safety as quickly as possible and not be kept stranded at sea.”
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