May 13, 2015
Today the European Commission presented the European Agenda on Migration, outlining measures that will be taken in order to respond to the crisis situation in the Mediterranean, as well as the steps to be taken in the coming years. While there is a significantly increased budget for search and rescue operations, it remains to be seen how these promises will translate into practice. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) today release the following statement in reaction:
While MSF welcomes that the European Commission has taken notice of the emergency situation at its borders, we remain prudent as we wait for the steps announced today as part of the new Migration Agenda to be translated into real action.
The increase in both funding for and geographical scope of the Frontex/Triton mission is a positive sign that Europe is finally stepping up and taking responsibility on the Mediterranean Sea, but we are concerned about the impact of its multi-purpose mission. The consequences of a strong military focus on fighting smugglers could have a severe impact on search and rescue efforts lead by humanitarian organisations, like MSF and MOAS and well as on the people we are trying to assist.
The EU urgently needs to prove it can make a difference in saving many lives at sea by offering meaningful alternatives to these boat journeys. European leaders must ensure that their policies and actions do not put the same people we intend to save and protect in further danger but instead focus on alleviating suffering and saving lives. In addition, Europe must urgently improve the conditions those fleeing across the Mediterranean currently face in reception centres in southern Europe. Until the EU transforms its promises into action, MSF will continue to run search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean sea, as well as provide medical support for migrants and refugees upon arrival in Europe.