The British Home Office announced today that UK wants to halt the migrant rescues on the Mediterranean Sea. Such operations can encourage more people to make dangerous crossings to reach Europe knowing that they will be rescued.
“UK would not support future search and rescue operations to prevent migrants drowning in the Mediterranean Sea” said Joyce Anelay, the Foreign Office minister.
War, poverty and persecution are what make desperate people take terrible risks by crossing the Mediterranean Sea. However, this has led to more deaths as people used unfitting boats to make the crossing.
Mare Nostrum is a major research and rescue operation run by Italy off the Libyan coast for a year. It had, so far, saved the lives of more than 150.000 migrants. The operation has been triggered after the drowning of 300 migrants on the boat disaster off the island of Lampedusa.
Due to some financial issues, Italy has to shut down the operation. It is to be replaced with a much more limited EU “border protection” operation named Triton and run by Frontex, the EU’s external border agency. The operation will have only a third of the resources of the Italian one.
Nouhad Belkhadem, IEJ 3E