Six people a day are drowning in the Mediterranean while trying to reach our shores. Or, to put it another way, last year alone 2,300 people drowned. That’s a shocking number. Also relatively, it’s a significantly higher number than we saw in previous years. Why? At least in part, it’s because of the much reduced rescue capacity in the Mediterranean.
Rescue efforts can make a real difference. The EU’s Operation SOPHIA rescued thousands of people while it had ships deployed in the area. Rescuing people from the Mediterranean is not just a matter of morality, it’s also an issue of law, of international human rights law and the law of the sea.
So we now need urgently three things. The first is that we need States to engage with each other again, together with institutions to put a sizeable and meaningful rescue capacity in the seas.
Secondly, we need to match the official efforts with allowing the private boats to operate. They can and must be allowed to make their own powerful impact for good. And third and finally, when people are rescued we need to get them to shore quickly in full respect for their dignity and their safety.
This is a matter of life and death, and we can fix it.