Over 330 people have died in the Mediterranean attempting to cross over to Italy. Petty financial calculations and lack of European agreement are to blame. In 2014 Italy’s own rescue-at-sea mission – Mare Nostrum, which rescued over 150,000 migrants in just one year – has been suspended and replaced by a much smaller joint European mission, Triton, limited to patrolling only up to 30 miles from the Italian coast.
Mare Nostrum had been replaced because of its high running costs and out of a feeling that patrolling Europe’s Southern border should be a shared European duty. Italy was wrong in cancelling the mission before a sufficiently ambitious European plan was agreed to replace it. We call on the government of Matteo Renzi to immediately re-instate Italy’s own rescue-at-sea mission.
The European Union has shown its worst face in failing to agree a common rescue policy to avoid continuing human tragedy in the Mediterranean. This is another shameful day to call oneself a European. We call on all European leaders meeting Thursday 12 February in Brussels, on the President of the European Parliament Martin Schultz, on the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Junker, to raise as matter of urgency the necessity of a joint European mission to avoid the perpetuation of such horror.