- Created: Thursday, 10 August 2017 12:39
- Written by Tom Vickers
Thousands of people continue to cross the Mediterranean on unsafe, overcrowded botas.
So far this year, more than 2,150 people have been confirmed dead while trying to cross the Mediterranean to get to Europe – one in 40 of those trying to cross and three times as many as in late 2015, when EU rescue efforts began to be reduced. Meanwhile, in Britain, as the government prepares for withdrawal from the EU, restrictions and attacks on migrants continue. Tom Vickers reports.
The European Commission (EC) recently backed an Italian proposal that anybody rescuing migrants at sea should be forced to operate under the authority of the Italian and Libyan coastguards, who NGOs have said are deliberately allowing people to drown or are returning them to the violence and abuse of detention camps in Libya. The International Organisation for Migration and the UNHCR have criticised the proposed restrictions on NGOs, reflecting splits in the ruling classes. The head of UNHCR’s Europe office, Vincent Cochetel, suggested regulations would be more appropriate for NATO and commercial ships operating in the Mediterranean, which he said have been switching off their GPS systems in order to avoid having to rescue people. Far-right groups have raised tens of thousands of pounds for a plan to intercept NGO boats and prevent them rescuing people from the sea; on 24 July ‘Defend Europe’ announced its first ship had entered the Mediterranean.