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More than 250 organisations demand Merkel act on the drowning of refugees in the Mediterranean

A Hellenic coast guard rescues refugees and migrants on a dinghy as they try to reach the Greek island of Lesbos while crossing the Aegean sea from Turkey on September 29, 2015 [ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images]
A Hellenic coast guard rescues refugees and migrants on a dinghy as they try to reach the Greek island of Lesbos while crossing the Aegean sea from Turkey on September 29, 2015 [ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images]

These organisations stated in an open letter to Merkel on Wednesday: “We are shocked by the current European policy, which is aimed at more isolation and deterrence, and thus accepting the death of thousands.”

Among the organizations that signed the letter, “For the Sake of Asylum”, “Doctors Without Borders”, “Amnesty International”, “Sea Watch”, “SOS Mediterranée”, “Zbroke”, “Diaccone”, “Charité”, “Equality”, “Bread for the World” and “German Trade Union Confederation”.

According to United Nations data, illegal migrants’ crossing of the Mediterranean is becoming more dangerous in 2018 because of the likely undermining of search and rescue missions in the sea.

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The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva said at the end of January that six people on average die every day in the sea.

Overall, some 117,000 people arrived in Europe via the Mediterranean in 2018, and 2,775 people died.  This year, 311 people died in the Mediterranean, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

In their letter to Merkel, the organisations described the criminalisation of civil relief agencies, which do not want to see the failure of European countries in providing aid, as a “scandal”. The organisations called for the distribution of refugees in European countries as a way of solidarity, enabling cities and local authorities to receive more refugees voluntarily, and not to return refugees who were rescued at sea to Libya under any circumstances because of the deteriorating human rights situation there.

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