One year of Italy’s law obstructing search and rescue: Deaths will rise, warn 22 organisations in a statement

Foto der Humanity 1 im Einsatz auf dem Mittelmeer.
Laurin Schmid / SOS Humanity

22 February 2024. “Significantly more people drowned in the central Mediterranean in 2023 than in the previous year. Instead of increasing rescue capacities, the Italian government is allowing the humanitarian disaster on the world’s deadliest refugee route to worsen further by obstructing search and rescue NGOs,” criticises Marie Michel, policy expert at the civil search and rescue organisation SOS Humanity in Berlin.

One year after the law, passed by the far-right Meloni government and the Italian parliament, came into force, 22 non-governmental organisations involved in maritime rescue have today published a statement to draw attention to the deterioration of the situation for people on the move (see text below).

“We urge the EU and its member states to respect international maritime law and human rights and to stop obstructing our life-saving work in the Mediterranean,” said Michel. 2023 was the deadliest year in the Central Mediterranean since 2017, with 2,500 people drowned or missing. (IOM)

The statement was signed by Doctors without Borders, Sea-Eye, Sea-Watch, SOS Humanity, SOS Mediterranee and United4Rescue, among others.

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