MOSCOW (Sputnik) – A petition urging the European Union to "restore a robust operation of search and rescue” in the Mediterranean Sea, has gathered more than 198,000 signatures by Tuesday.
The online petition “Stop the deaths at sea now!" was launched by Tareke Brahne, who migrated from Eritrea to Italy in 2005, on Monday, a day after a boat with migrants capsized while heading from Libya to Italy, leaving up to 800 people dead, according to the United Nations.
“Thousands of people will lose their lives in the coming weeks, if the EU does not act now,” the petition read.
On Thursday, representatives of the EU member states will gather for an emergency meeting on immigration.
The main issues on the agenda will be ways of stopping human trafficking, endangering migrants’ lives, as well as means to help the EU countries most affected by the problem.
The Mediterranean Sea is considered to be one of the main routes for migrants, who are fleeing conflicts in North Africa and the Middle East. At least 3,500 people died crossing the sea in 2014, according to the United Nations estimates. The recent capsize could drive up the current death toll for 2015 to about 1,600.