Drifting lives in the Mediterranean Sea

Ana Miranda, who was on board the emergency tow vessel Open Arms, has called for action to save refugee lives

News / 27.8.18

While sailing across the coastline of Libya on board the ship Astral operated by the NGO Open Arms, MEP Ana Miranda expressed her shock at the decisions of the European Union to tighten its external borders during the recent summit on migration.

“I was especially surprised by the egoism of Malta and Italy for denying the humanitarian rescue ship Open Arms to dock safely,” she said. The boat carrying 60 rescued refugees was finally allowed to dock in the port of Barcelona.

“We need to change Europe’s xenophobic migration policies, because the decisions of the European Council are leaving many innocent and vulnerable people to die while at sea,” she added.

“People are drifting out at sea for countless hours after fleeing from war, prosecution, hunger, rape and slavery. We, as people, need to oppose these situations strongly.”

On the EU’s response to recent developments by strengthening border controls and focus on security, MEP Ana Miranda said that, “the EU’s lack of political courage or ambition to save lives is apparent in it focus on dissuading and preventing refugees from starting their journey to Europe, while ignoring the root causes that force them to flee their countries”.

“EU member states have to assume their responsibilities and not look the other way as vulnerable people die while crossing the Mediterranean Sea. Rescue operations help to prevent the loss of lives, but they are not long-lasting or sustainable solutions,” she continued.

On the 30th of August 2018, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs of the European Parliament approved a pilot project proposed by MEP Ana Miranda to create a new legal instrument, which would facilitate safe passage for refugees who wish to apply for asylum.

“With this proposal we want to reduce the number of deaths at sea and provide safe entry points, since the current European asylum system only allows asylum applications to be administered by the first country of entry,” she explained.

This pilot project, included in the amendments to the 2019 community budget, would prepare the launch of this new legal tool, the European Humanitarian Visa, which would provide safe access to refugees who could request international humanitarian protection directly from a third country.

While the European Union looks for coordinated solutions, people are continuing to take dangerous journeys and perish while at sea.

“I believe that democracy and integration policies should be one of the pillars of the EU. This is why we need another Europe, a welcoming Europe for refugees, as well as a Europe that protects the rights of all peoples.”

“We need our approach to stay human. We need a coordinated European policy that does not dehumanize migrants and criminalize NGOs engaged in search and rescue work in the Mediterranean,” she concluded.

MEP Ana Miranda has called for action on migration at the EU level at the conference Rights of Peoples, organised by Coppieters Foundation, Fundacion Moncho Reboiras and Fundacion Galiza Sempre.


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The conference was financially supported by the European Parliament. The European Parliament is not liable for the content of the conference or the opinions of the speakers.

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Cover image by Oliver Paaske on Unsplash.

Featured image by European Free Alliance-Greens group in the European Parliament.

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