23:10 GMT13 May 2021
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    Amnesty International blamed the European Union for decision to cancel Mare Nostrum, the Italian Navy’s humanitarian search and rescue operation, contributed to the dramatic increase in the number of migrant deaths in the Mediterranean Sea.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — An EU decision to cancel Mare Nostrum, the Italian Navy’s humanitarian search and rescue operation, contributed to the dramatic increase in the number of migrant deaths in the Mediterranean Sea, a leading human rights watchdog said on Wednesday.

    Last year, the Mare Nostrum rescue mission, launched by the Italian government in 2013, ended.

    “While the end of Mare Nostrum has not led to a drop in departures, it can however reasonably be linked to an increase in deaths at sea,” Amnesty International said in a briefing.

    According to the watchdog's calculations, the death toll in the Mediterranean in 2015 is 100 times greater than in 2014, amounting to as many as 1,700 victims.

    To replace Mare Nostrum, the EU agency for external borders Frontex established a joint operation called Triton beginning November 2014.

    The watchdog stressed that Triton is tasked with patrolling borders, rather than with open-sea search and rescue, and its contribution to rescue operations remains insufficient. Triton is active only within 30 miles of the Italian coast, while Mare Nostrum operated in international waters.

    Amnesty International called on the EU authorities to “urgently deploy more resources in the context of a European multi-national humanitarian operation dedicated to assisting refugees and migrants in peril in the central Mediterranean.”

    The briefing was published ahead of the Thursday emergency summit in Brussels on the Mediterranean migrant crisis. The meeting comes less then a week after a boat with migrants capsized on Sunday while heading from Libya to Italy, leaving up to 800 people dead.


    How do you think the Mediterranean migrant crisis should be handled?
    • Send Navy patrols to intercept migrants and escort them back home
      22.2% (264)
    • Carry out search-and-rescue operations and fund refugee camps in Europe
      13.7% (163)
    • Support their home countries to stop migrants from leaving
      50.9% (605)
    • Arrest them when they arrive, and send them back home immediately
      13.1% (156)
    Voted: 2
    On Monday, the online petition “Stop the deaths at sea now!" was launched by Tareke Brahne, who migrated from Eritrea to Italy in 2005. The petition, urging the European Union to "restore a robust operation of search and rescue” in the Mediterranean Sea, has gathered more than 290,000 signatures by Wednesday.

    The Mediterranean is one of the main routes for migrants fleeing conflicts in North Africa and the Middle East. Due to current instability in the region, the number of asylum-seekers has increased dramatically. According to the UN Refugee Agency, the amount of migrants arriving to Europe by sea has increased by 60 percent in the beginning of this year compared to January 2014.

    At least 3,500 people died crossing the sea in 2014, according to the United Nations estimates.


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    Mare Nostrum, Amnesty International, Italy
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