Spain: Vox, 'stop rescue ops in Strait of Gibraltar'

Far-right party, 'do not encourage trafficking networks'

22 February, 13:42

    (ANSAmed) - MADRID, FEBRUARY 22 - Far-right party Vox has asked the regional assembly of Andalusia to prevent the maritime rescue agency, which responds to the infrastructure ministry, from taking part in migrant rescue operations in the Strait of Gibraltar to avoid ''increasingly encouraging human traffickers in setting base in North Africa''.

    The measure was requested in the commission of the presidency of Andalusia's chamber by Vox's MP for Almeria, Luz Belinda Rodriguez, according to online newspaper El Confidencial. Rescue operations, the MP said, ''help human trafficking networks be increasingly active'' in the Maghreb region.

    According to the spokesman of the far-right party, which supports the government of the Popular Party and Ciudadanos in the region, Alejandro Hernandez, ''we are not talking about suspending rescue operations in the open sea but to end fake rescue operations in Morocco's territorial waters''.

    In statements to the media, Hernandez claimed that such operations take place after ''slave mafias set the date, place and hour to carry out the rescue'' operations. Interventions by Spanish vessels thus end up ''encouraging this illegal activity'', the spokesman claimed. In a statement, Vox said that 809 migrants died off the coasts of Andalusia in 2018, compared to 224 in 2017, ''a number that increased by over 250%''. The group urged Spanish State aid to focus on ''the countries of origin of migrants''.

    According to a report on European southern borders presented last week by the Asociacion Pro Derechos Humanos de Andalusia (Apdha), a total of 1,064 people drowned or were reported missing at sea in 2018 as they were attempting to reach Spain's coast along the western Mediterranean route. The victims were four times more numerous than the previous year.

    For its part the maritime rescue agency, since the start of this year, has stopped publishing on social media the number of migrants it has rescued off Spain's coast after growing criticism for its humanitarian action ''mostly from Vox supporters'', wrote El Confidencial.

    (ANSAmed).

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