EU free movement policy unfortunately doesn’t extend to non-EU refugees who arguably are more in need of it.

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The body of one of the people who died in a shipwreck roughly six miles from the Italian island of Lampedusa lies on the seabed Photo: Italian Coastguard

EU border policies have turned the sea into a refugee graveyard, civil migrant rescue fleet charges

The EU’s border policies have turned the Mediterranean Sea into a refugee graveyard, NGOs charged today after photos emerged of some of the people who died in a recent shipwreck six miles off the coast of Lampedusa.

The people pictured on the sea bed by the Italian coastguard drowned after the wooden boat carrying approximately 70 people sank on October 6.

It is not known how many people perished that night but only about 40 people were rescued.

French charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF), which operates the Ocean Viking rescue ship with SOS Mediterranee, shared the picture on social media today.

“For the Ocean Viking’s teams who had searched for survivors of this shipwreck for 48 hours, seeing bodies of those who died in that tragedy lying on the sea floor is unbearable.

“Was any EU migration policy worth the Mediterranean Sea becoming a cemetery?”

SOS Mediterranee said that the “Mediterranean remains an ever-growing graveyard.”

German charity Sea Watch said: “This picture is painful. It is a glimpse into reality, into the very bottom of EU politics.

“The lives that are lost, not physically far but far from our so-called representatives’ consciences, are often lost unseen, unnamed and unknown. May this one be seen and move us to act.”

Spanish charity Open Arms said it was unbearable to know that all these people could have been saved. “They sought peace in Europe and found the sea bed. Let the managers pay, if ever a life can have a price.”

Mission Lifeline, a German NGO that has two ships impounded by the Italian and Maltese authorities, tweeted the picture saying: “At the seabed in the Mediterranean. Stop the madness! Let our ships Eleonore and Lifeline [go] free.”

Alarm Phone, an activist network that provides support for people crossing the Mediterranean Sea to the EU, said: “This horrible evidence is only one of many unknown but similar fates and the price of the European border regime.

“It shows to what extent the Mediterranean is a mass grave, hiding under its waters not only these bodies and these deaths but also the crimes of the European border policies, fully responsible for these deaths, which are in fact murders.”

First published in the Morning Star by:LINK 

This week from SOS MEDITERRANEE

Ocean Viking rescues 176 people. Where will they be disembarked?
SOS MEDITERRANEE’s crew has rescued 176 people during two separate operations, one on the night of 12 October and one on 13 October. All rescued people are currently safe onboard the Ocean Viking, the rescue ship chartered by SOS MEDITERRANEE and operated with MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières).

The first rescue occurred after the Ocean Viking was in copy of an email alert sent by the NGO Alarm Phone to the maritime authorities on the evening of 12 October. The boat in distress was drifting near Al Jurf offshore oil platform. The offshore oil platform called our ship to grant permission to enter into the restricted zone that spans 3 NM around the platform. Being allowed to get as close as 1NM to the platform, teams proceeded with the rescue operation saving 74 people, all males and including unaccompanied minors. The operation conducted at night was completed at 00:03h.

At 00:25, the Ocean Viking received communication from the Libyan maritime authorities with information regarding a boat in distress, giving its approximate position and requesting the ship to proceed to search and rescue. The Ocean Viking followed the instructions but did not find the boat in distress after more than 9 hours of search. No further information was given by the Libyan authorities upon further request from our Search and Rescue coordinator onboard. It was the first time the Ocean Viking had received a written request from the Libyan authorities to be engaged in a search and rescue operation.

On the morning of 13 October, the Ocean Viking was alerted of another rubber boat in distress and proceeded to its location. At 13:50, our teams completed the rescue of 102 people including 4 pregnant women and 9 children under the age of 16 from an unseaworthy rubber boat in distress.

The Ocean Viking as per maritime law has requested a Place of Safety (PoS) to disembark the 176 rescued people, to the Libyan JRCC. As the Libyan authorities indicated Tripoli as a Port of Disembarkation, we kindly declined as according to international law and conventions no place in Libya can be currently considered a Place of Safety.

“While the Ocean Viking is heading north and most able to assist Rescue Coordination Centres (RCCs) have been notified, we strongly urge EU member states and the competent authorities to promptly assign us a Place of Safety so that the 176 rescued people can be safely disembarked. These, men, women, children have gone through a terrible and scary journey at sea; having them on the Ocean Viking aft deck is an emergency solution but a rescue can only be considered once they reach a shore when they can be taken care of.”, says Frederic Penard, SOS MEDITERRANEE’S Head of Operations.

“It is now the fourth time since the Ocean Viking started operations that we are waiting to be assigned a Place of Safety to disembark rescued people. EU governments have failed so far to set up a predictable disembarkation mechanism in accordance with maritime law. Ad hoc agreements cannot be the solution. We call upon governments to put an end to this unacceptable situation.” – Sophie Beau, co-founder and vice-president of SOS MEDITERRANEE.

Please take the time to visit SOS Mediterranee to see the good work being conducted by the Ocean Viking: LINK

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