Rising death toll prompts Europe to act

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21 Apr 2015
[International Secretariat]
Topic: Refugees and Migrants

The death of upwards of 1,000 refugees and migrants this week in the Mediterranean has prompted the European Commission and European foreign and interior ministers to finally acknowledge the need to urgently address search and rescue failures, said Amnesty International today following an announcement at a meeting in Luxembourg. 

The meeting will now be followed by an emergency summit on Thursday, which the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, today promised to attend.

While this marks a positive break from the previous policy of denial and empty rhetoric, the organisation warns that the devil will be in the detail. The full scope of the area of operations, the resources and assets made available for search and rescue and by when will be crucial in determining whether lives will be saved.

Iverna McGowan acting Director, Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office, said:

“Thursday’s emergency summit will be the litmus test for Europe’s commitment to save lives in the Mediterranean. Words must now turn into concrete action specifically in the form of a European multi-nation and robust search and rescue operation.”

John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia, added:

“Finally a sense of urgency has mobilised European governments and EU institutions to act – at least on paper. This can no longer be rhetoric. It is now up to Europe to urgently follow through on their commitments by concretely delivering a comprehensive search and rescue flotilla with accompanying air support operating where needed. This alone will reduce the death-toll.”

Amnesty International Press Release
20 April 2015