Applaud Better Rescues for Migrants at Sea


Target: Cecilia Malmstroem,  EU commissioner for home affairs

Goal: Commend Cecilia Malmstroem’s proposal of expanding sea patrols to conduct rescue operations of capsized migrant boats

Desperate migrants – fleeing to Italy from religious persecution and war North Africa – have recently been perishing in their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean sea.   Fortunately, the European Commission has proposed sea patrols that will provide better rescue operations. Using ships and helicopters to patrol the waters would decrease the likelihood of drowning because the sinking vessels could be quickly intercepted and potential victims carried to safety. Helicopters are particularly helpful as they would permit the identification and tracking of migrant boats at sea so that accidents could be noticed as soon as they happen.

The proposal was a response to the broad outrage sparked by yet another sea disaster in the coastal waters off the Italian island of Lampedusa that has claimed 339 lives of Africans — most Eritreans, but some Somalis — on October 3rd. More recently, 12 people died in the waters near the island of Malta, located just south of Italy. It was a fortunate coincidence that a navy aircraft had observed the boat capsizing; otherwise, a Maltese navy boat wouldn’t have been able to quickly respond and save 150 people.

The need for the sea patrols to prevent the occurrence of drowning is all the more crucial given the significant numbers of migrants arriving in Southern Italy – a whopping total of about 30,000 arrivals in 2013 that has more than doubled from the previous year. Most of them are from sub-Saharan Africa, fleeing their countries for different reasons. Eritrean Christians want to leave behind a state that subjects them to imprisonment and torture for their faith; Somalis want to escape a war-ridden country plagued by unexpected and deadly attacks of radical militants. In this large wave of migration, accidents are almost to be expected since the boats are manned by captains who don’t follow safety regulations and overload them to the brim with people to increase their profits.

Tracking these overloaded boats likely to tip over with helicopters and rescuing potential victims by taking them onboard ships is a humane response to this humanitarian crisis that should be implemented as soon as possible. The consequences of doing nothing to prevent further migrant deaths would, as Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat aptly put it, “… allow the Mediterranean to become a cemetery.” If you too don’t want the sea to become a burying ground, sign this petition to praise EU commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem for proposing expanded sea patrols that could end up saving many lives.


Dear Cecilia Malmstroem,  EU commissioner for home affairs

It is heartbreaking to see the recurrence of the same old sad story — hundreds of migrants heading from North Africa to southern Italy drowning as their crammed boat capsizes. Their perilous journey is no aberration — thousands of people expose themselves to the danger of drowning every year to leave behind Africa to escape war, religious persecution, and poverty. Adding ships to patrol the Mediterranean waters and helicopters to track and identify the migrant boats would permit the EU to respond quickly to accidents as soon as they happen. Affording thousands of people marooned at sea no emergency response services to prevent drownings would simply be inhumane.

So far, for whatever reason, the European Union has only managed to look after the safety of migrants after they arrived on shore by housing them in refugee detention centers. It has been a terrible oversight on its part to neglect the safety and well-being of those traveling by boat. Whatever stance a state takes on the immigration issue, everyone can agree that migrants — whether they end up granted asylum or deported — should not be left to perish at sea. Their death by water is in no one’s interest. That is why we thank you for taking the initiative to make their boat journeys safer by proposing that the EU improve its Mediterranean sea patrol operations.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Vito Manzari via Wikimedia Commons

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