‘not just cruel but totally without logic‘
Mark Lazarowicz MP has attacked the Government for refusing to work with other European states to put in place search and rescue operations across the Mediterranean to save the lives of refugees and migrants desperately trying to reach Europe at risk of their lives.
He put down an Urgent Question to the Government to challenge its policy as the Italian Navy operation comes to an end this week without a comprehensive EU operation to replace it.
It is estimated that already this year more than 3000 people have drowned in the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe and the total number to have lost their lives over recent years is likely to be at least 20,000.
The North and Leith MP (pictured above) said: “Refugees and migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe are exploited by people traffickers and risk dying en route – yet they are so desperate they still make these terrible journeys anyway, many of them fleeing war, poverty and starvation in places like Syria and Libya.
“The Government has said it would not support EU search and rescue operations across the Mediterranean – to discourage, presumably, others from making the journey: that’s not just cruel but totally without logic.
“The right response is to work to bring about a comprehensive EU search and rescue operation and offer safe and legal channels for people to access protection yet the number of refugees from Syria the Government has allowed in to the UK is tiny.
“This is a shameful policy. When fellow human beings face a terrible death, and it is in our power to do something about it, it is our moral duty to act.”
The Italian navy’s search and rescue operation comes to an end this week having it is estimated saved 150,000 lives over the past year but the UK has made it clear it will not support EU search and rescue operations across the Mediterranean to replace it because it believes it would only encourage more people to undertake the journey.
That will leave only a much more limited EU plan that will see operations restricted to within 30 miles of the Italian coast.
The decision has been strongly attacked by the British Refugees Council, Amnesty International and other agencies working in the field.