Please sign and share now before more children die
- Volunteer rescue ships can no longer to operate in the Mediterranean, so the death rate has shot up to a horrifying one in every five people drowned or lost – the highest its ever been
- UK tax payer’s money is keeping people detained in Libya where they are tortured and brutalised
Please sign now as a statement that we do not support these horrific policies that are being implemented by our governments
On 10th June 2018 Italy’s new government closed its ports to NGO rescue ships operating in the Mediterranean Sea. Since then, rescue ships have been detained in Malta and not allowed to continue their life saving work.
By 26 August 2018 there were no NGO ships operating in the Mediterranean and by September one in every five people that tried to cross the Mediterranean either drowned or disappeared, with on average eight people dying per day. This is a massive surge in death rates from the one in 18 that went missing at the start of 2018, or the one in 50 during 2015 at the height of the refugee crisis.
Over 1,000 people have so far drowned in the Mediterranean while well equipped and ready to sail NGO vessels are detained in port(1). These latest fatalities have pushed the death toll in the Central Mediterranean route to over 1,800 in 2018(2). In just one day more than 100 people drowned, among them three babies and other children(3). A number of bodies have washed up on the beaches.
Imagine – for just a minute – a motorway pile-up where ambulances are not allowed to attend.
Imagine – for just a minute – 400 British families drowning in the English Channel.
The UK provides funding and support to the Libyan coast guard and to Libyan detention centres however there are many documented accounts of horrific torture and abuse occurring in these Libyan detention centres. In a statement issued on 17th November 2017 the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said that, “The suffering of migrants detained in Libya is an outrage to the conscience of humanity (4). The international community cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the unimaginable horrors endured by migrants in Libya”.
From 1-6th November 2017, UN human rights monitors visited four DCIM facilities in Tripoli, where they interviewed detainees who have fled conflict, persecution and extreme poverty from states across Africa and Asia. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein described his visit: “Monitors were shocked by what they witnessed: thousands of emaciated and traumatized men, women and children piled on top of each other, locked up in hangars with no access to the most basic necessities, and stripped of their human dignity.”
In May 2018, seventeen survivors of a fatal incident off the coast of Libya filed an application against Italy with the European Court of Human Rights (EctHR) (5). The incident occurred on 6th November 2017, when the Libyan Coast Guard interfered with the NGO vessel SeaWatch-3, hindering its efforts to rescue 130 migrants from a dinghy in distress. As the dinghy sank, at least 20 migrants died. The Libyan Coast Guard ‘pulled back’ the survivors to Libya, where they endured detention in inhumane conditions, beatings, extortion, starvation, and rape. Two of the survivors were subsequently ‘sold’ and tortured with electrocution. This was not an isolated incident.
Supplying evidence in the case, Charles Heller, co-founder of the Forensic Oceanography project, stated: “we have analysed sixteen different episodes in which Italy, with the support of the EU, has coordinated and directed the Libyan Coast Guard to intercept and return migrants to Libya, despite the well-documented human rights violations they can expect to face there. The evidence we have gathered demonstrates the shocking extent to which Europe has been outsourcing its human rights violations”.
At a summit on 28 June EU leaders, including the UK, committed to standing by Italy to stop Mediterranean crossings by effectively criminalising rescue operations and by stepping up further support for the Libyan coastguard. This cannot go unchallenged.
To: Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt
Hundreds of people are drowning in the Mediterranean Sea – because the rescuers are no longer allowed to help. The governments of Malta and Italy are deliberately disabling the rescue vessels and aircraft of the aid organisations. They justify this by saying that the death of refugees will deter others from seeking protection from war and violence. This violates Europe’s basic humanitarian values. “No one puts their child in a boat unless the sea is safer than the land.”
We ask you to:
- Stop preventable deaths in the Mediterranean Sea. Demand from your Italian and Maltese counterparts that the NGO’s boats and planes are immediately released and allowed to rescue people again without fear of measures that effectively criminalise them.
- Immediately withdraw all funding and support for the deal between Italy and the Libyan coastguard. Do not use our tax money to fund the Libyan detention system that violates human rights law and all moral principles, or to facilitate ‘pull backs’ of those that try to escape this horrific regime.
- Instead use this funding, which is in fact part of the UK’s foreign aid budget, to support to the reputable NGOs who are operating search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean Sea.