Europe owes a solution to 234 rescued people on the LIFELINE and 113 people on the merchant vessel ALEXANDER MAERSK. Both have no port of safety assigned as of yet and remain adrift in international waters. The situation on the LIFELINE is stable so far, however in line with the IMO guidelines on the treatment of people rescued at sea, the people have to be brought to a place of safety without undue delay or difficulty. Because responsible European states have not provided a solution, Sea-Eye and Sea-Watch will send a boat with supplies to the position of the LIFELINE in international waters, to keep the situation stable. That now even merchant vessels are kept hostage at sea due to European power plays is a new quality of irresponsibility.
It is unacceptable that again political statements are made at the expense of people in maritime distress and in direct violation of applicable guidelines. With the EU summit on migration taking place tomorrow, the European community is asked to stop the gambling with lives at sea and to provide a solution immediately. Again, civil society has to step in where states fail to take their responsibility. It is of highest priority and importance that the civil rescue fleet should not be made responsible for the very problem it is there to respond to. That now even merchant vessels are kept hostage in this responsibility vacuum is incomprehensible.
After two more deadly shipwrecks became known yesterday, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi in a statement cited ‘dramatically lower arrival rates’ to Europe by sea, saying numbers are at pre-2014 level, before the surge in arrivals that followed. It is unacceptable that European states are consistently showing no political will to deal with a situation that has blown out of proportion for the sake of Europe’s internal divisions on migration policy. European states are equipped with the resources, mandate and laws that enable clear and humane solutions; yet, with numbers as low as they have been in four years, the death rate is now highest. This is a direct consequence of European leaders’ ongoing evasion of responsibility towards those in maritime distress, which has now reached its peak: limited SAR capacity, little to no maritime rescue coordination and no safe ports.
Reiterating the sentiments of the High Commissioner, who puts this situation into perspective by citing that ‘more than 9 in 10 of the world’s forcibly displaced people are outside Europe’, Sea-Watch likewise urges Europe to take up the relatively small portion of responsibility it is tasked with towards displaced people on a global scale. Instead of showing people, who are at their most vulnerable of times, the proverbial door and causing them further harm, Europe must open its doors, ports and cities to them, in accordance with international law, and it must do so now.
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