HRW and Amnesty call on EU to support Italy's Mare Nostrum

'EU must assist Italy in this vital life-saving operation'

05 June, 14:03

    A rescue of immigrants off the Sicilian coast (archive) A rescue of immigrants off the Sicilian coast (archive)

    (ANSAmed) - LUXEMBOURG - Two global human rights organizations on Thursday called on the European Union to support Italy's Mare Nostrum (Our Seas) search and rescue operation of migrants at sea.
    ''EU interior ministers should give financial and material support to Italy's vital efforts to save the lives of migrants at sea, because without collective EU action, this summer could become the season of mass drownings in the Mediterranean'', Human Rights Watch (HRW) warned a meeting of EU interior ministers in Luxembourg.
    ''Member States and the EU itself should share in the financial and legal responsibility'' of Italy's operation, which was launched in October 2013 following two boat wrecks in which almost 400 migrants drowned off the coast of Sicily.
    ''Mare Nostrum should be applauded, but Italy must not be left to carry out this life-saving operation alone'', added Nicolas Beger, head of the EU office of Amnesty International. ''Member States should commit to increasing search and rescue operations in order to guarantee the sustainability of this vital humanitarian intervention. Today's council is a decisive opportunity for member States to make this commitment'', said Berger, adding that with the exception of Italy, most EU members are focused instead on ''preventing immigration''. (ANSAmed).

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