Joint Press Release by MdM-Greece and MdM-Italy
The magnitude of the tragedy off Pylos is unimaginable after the sinking of a boat carrying hundreds of people. So far, the tragic toll stands at 79 dead and hundreds missing, while a three-day national mourning period has been declared in Greece. Meanwhile, searches are in full swing to locate and rescue missing people in the sea area of the shipwreck, with 104 people rescued.
Unfortunately, we are witnessing yet another tragedy, with the shipwrecks continuing. According to reports, the total number of occupants ranges from 400 to 750, making it the worst maritime tragedy in Greece in recent years. The unintentional deaths in peacetime continue. In spite of the new, proclaimed pact on immigration, in spite of ‘safe third countries’, in spite of assurances to the contrary, the flight continues.
The fact that the majority of migrants from Africa to Europe use the migratory route through Libya, combined with the generalized lawlessness prevailing in the country, has contributed to the development of entrenched and resilient trafficking and smuggling networks operating along this axis, following increasingly dangerous routes.
We demand safe and legal routes
Ten years after the Mare Nostrum operation in the Mediterranean and while the New Immigration Pact is being discussed at European level, progress towards a single European immigration and asylum policy that respects human rights and promotes the protection of life and dignity remains minimal and the rise of racism, xenophobia and policies of deterrence continues to gain ground.
“The new Pact on Migration is proof that the intention is increasingly to build walls and strengthen fences”, said the General Director of Doctors of the World Greece, Evgenia Thanou. “The thousands of deaths at sea that we have experienced in peacetime in our country even before the recent 2015 reception crisis could have been avoided if the countries involved had shown courage and a sense of responsibility and jointly undertook to ensure legal entry channels for those trying to reach Europe”, she added.
“Doctors of the World is deeply concerned by the lack of action related to the responsibility of competent Authorities. Rescuing people in danger at sea is not charity, it is a legal obligation of every State”, said the Executive Director of Doctors of the World Italy, Elisa Visconti. “Nowadays in Europe we are assisting to a worsening condition of the respect of life and human rights, especially touching the migrants in search of protection and without the possibility to find legal routes”, she added.
Médecins du Monde calls for safe and legal transit routes for migrants and for coordination between authorities to reduce unsafe migration, so that we can stop grieving victims. Médecins du Monde also calls for enhanced search and rescue operations at sea and for a joint, sincere effort by EU Member States to curb the rhetoric of hatred towards “difference” that fuels and reinforces the policies of deterrence that produce victims and humanitarian tragedies such as the Pylos shipwreck.