The situation facing refugees in the Mediterranean is getting worse. Alyn Smith MEP, member of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, has organised a public letter from Scotland calling for immediate action, and hopes as many people, parties and organisations will sign up. (full text below)
Appeal to prioritise search-and-rescue operations in the Mediterranean
We write as concerned organisations and individuals from Scotland to urge you to take concerted action to prevent the unacceptable loss of life in the Mediterranean.
An estimated 4000 migrants drowned while attempting to reach EU shores in 2014. With ongoing tragedies in Libya, Syria and Iraq as well as elsewhere adding to the pressure, we fear 2015 will be far worse. Last week hundreds of people are feared to have drowned after their boats capsized in the Mediterranean. These tragedies will only continue unless action is taken.
This is not a local problem for local authorities when they are clearly struggling with the numbers of those in danger. This loss of life shames us all. We applaud such support as has been given to local authorities so far, but it is clear we must take bolder, more concerted action.
The ending of the Italian “Mare Nostrum” strategy due to insufficient funding was regrettable. Today, the EU's border control agency FRONTEX has been mandated in Operation Triton by our Member States to carry out some helpful functions, but with a low priority on search-and-rescue operations.
Our appeal to Member States and the European Commission is to:
- Retask FRONTEX to prioritise search-and-rescue operations, even recreating the “Mare Nostrum” strategy as a FRONTEX mission; and
- Ensure proper funding for search-and-rescue operations at sea.
It is our to date insufficient policy response that has created a crisis off our shores. Concerted action facilitated by the EU and enthusiastically backed by the Member States will be more than up to the task of keeping people safe. We hope that you will respond enthusiastically to our call.
Alyn Smith, MEP | David Miller, The British Red Cross | Neil Mathers, Save the Children | OXFAM in Scotland | Liz Murray, Global Justice Now | Jane Salmonson, CBM UK | Marian Pallister, Chair: Mthunzi and Lilanda Intiative (M.A.L.I) | Paul Morron, Glasgow Jewish Representative Council | Mazhar Kahn, Muslim Council of Scotland | Rev. David Robertson, Free Church of Scotland | Marion Waruguru, Women’s Interfaith Network | Dr Zara Christie, The Global Concerns Trust | Sam Abrahams, First Aid Africa | Maree Aldam, INSP | Dr Gari Donn, UNA Scotland | Sarah Alldred, Co-Operative College | Max Matsvayi, Southern Agenda | Geoffrey Care, Bressay Outreach | Mukami McCrum, Kenyan Women in Scotland | Dr Maureen Sier, Interfaith Scotland | Charandeep Singh, Gurdwara Guru Granth Sahib Sikh Sabha | Archie Hinchcliffe, Cerebral Palsy Africa | Ian Rankin, Christian Engineers in Development | Dugald MacPherson, The Dòchas Education Trust | The Rev'd Markus Dünzkofer, St John's Episcopal Church | Barbara Potter, Quaker Representative: Interfaith Scotland | Jeni Mackay, SEAD | Ellen Charlton, Justice and Peace Scotland | Lieut-Colonel Jonathan Roberts, Salvation Army Scotland | Alan Barr, STAND International
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