Consider signing this Avaaz petition to Federica Mogherini, EU Foreign Affairs head, urge a political u-turn, and reinstate the sea rescue of migrants in the Mediterranean. Italy set up its Mare Nostrum search and rescue operation after the tragedy off Lempedusa in October 2013, in which 360 would-be migrants drowned. Mare Notrum saved many thousands of lives in 2014, but European governments argued that Mare Nostrum was serving as a ‘pull factor’ and actively encouraging migrants to embark on the dangerous crossing to Europe. In October 2014 Mare Nostrum was replaced by the European border management agency Frontex’s Triton operation, which has a stated primary focus of securing European borders. More than 400 migrants are believed to have died in the Mediterranean in the first month and a half of 2015 (the corresponding figure in 2014 was 27). Of these, 29 died of hypothermia on the decks of the small patrol boats that had rescued them. The Mayor of Lampedusa, Giusi Nicolini, said this was a consequence of the cancellation of Mare Nostrum: there are no longer any large ships patrolling the waters near Libya.
The European Commission document Migration and Asylum, Building an Open and Safe Europe, states: ‘The EU protects people fleeing persecution and war’. The duty to protect those in need is enshrined in the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It is also an international obligation resulting from the 1951 Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. Please sign this petition and share it with friends, relatives, networks and organisations.