Lampedusa: another tragedy that should have been avoided by all means

“I am appalled by the news of over 300 migrants feared dead in the Mediterranean. My thoughts are with the families of the victims. This is another tragedy that should have been avoided by all means. These deaths, which follow those of 29 migrants who died of hypothermia, put into question the decision to end the full-scale search-and-rescue mission Mare Nostrum in 2014,” said Anne Brasseur, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

“Last year, a record of 170,000 irregular migrants, asylum seekers and refugees crossed the Mediterranean sea into Europe and more than 3,400 people died while taking this dangerous route in ill-equipped boats. Current trends show that the volume of irregular migration in 2015 is outpacing that of last year: according to UNHCR, the number of persons arriving by sea in January 2015 increased by 60% by contrast to the same month in 2014, when Mare Nostrum was in place. I invite European governments to reaffirm their solidarity by putting in place a more effective and well-resourced European search and rescue initiative, creating alternative migration possibilities and increasing efforts to combat smuggling.

As Pope Francis said while addressing the European Institutions in Strasbourg last November “there needs to be a united response to the question of migration. We cannot allow the Mediterranean to become a vast cemetery”. It is a question of life or death and all European states must stand in solidarity with countries of origins, Southern Mediterranean countries, and all those who are forced to flee conflict and persecution,” Ms Brasseur declared.